Dayton Public Schools is ahead of last year’s pace in hiring new teachers as of this week but is still working to fill openings before the Aug. 13 start of the school year.
Judy Spurlock, executive director of human resources for DPS, said roughly 100 teachers left the district this summer via resignation or retirement, a lower number than in each of the past few years. But the district had many more than those 100 spots to fill.
“We have had multiple teachers promoted to administrative positions, which has created (more) openings,” Spurlock said. “Also, new teacher positions were added for the upcoming school year, including additional media specialists and counselors” (who are covered by the teachers union contract).
As of Tuesday morning, the district had hired 142 teachers and other professionals under that contract but still had about 30 open positions left to fill. Spurlock said the 30 open spots are fewer than the district had at this time last year, but she cited math and science teachers as a specific need.
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Teachers union President David Romick said the lower number of resignations and retirements is at least partially tied to recent pay increases and a contract extension, compared to the turmoil of summer 2017, when the teachers nearly went on strike.
In the summers of 2015 and 2016, the district had to hire about 200 teachers each year to fill vacancies due to heavy retirements as well as teachers leaving for other districts and other professions.
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said many urban school districts struggle with losing teachers to suburban districts that pay better. And she said intervention specialists, who teach students with disabilities, are another group that DPS is fighting to hire.
Lolli said she has directed the HR department to try to hire teachers throughout the year, rather than just dedicating substitutes to open classrooms once the year begins.
“We’re going to hire a teacher once we find one … we’re not going to have all these subs that are switching out every 58 days,” Lolli said. “We’re going to look for a teacher, hire a teacher and put them in the position, not play this sub game. It’s better for kids.”
East schools filling up
The district recently closed enrollment for Kiser PreK-6 School because the building is full, and the school board on Monday approved a $348,000 contract with Mobilease Modular Space to install two new 24-foot-by-64-foot modular classrooms (trailers) at Kiser. Lolli said Kiser, Eastmont and Kemp schools are all packed.
“We really are one building short on the east side of town,” Lolli said. “That’s really what it boils down to. We have plenty of buildings on the west side of town, but we’re one full building short on the east side of town.”
Lolli said DPS will restructure its public relations/media department after the October departure of Marsha Bonhart, who is retiring after one year with DPS. In the meantime, the school board voted Monday to activate a one-year, $112,500 contract option with the Ohlmann Group for public relations, print/media design, marketing, web development, and social/digital media services to be determined by a “statement of work.”
“The Ohlmann Group is going to help us fill in the gaps,” Lolli said. “There’s just too much important information, and if something happens and we don’t have people in place when Marsha walks out the door, where are we?”
The school board hired Ramon Johnson as the second associate director of athletics. He and Marscilla Packer will work under new district AD Shawna Welch.
DPS also hired its former building athletic directors, whose positions have been abolished, as the athletic site coordinators for its high schools. They are Quiona Boffman (Dunbar), Earl White (Belmont), Armiya Muhammad (Thurgood), Chad Miller (Thurgood Marshall), Linda Neal (Ponitz) and Randall Risner (Stivers).
PATH FORWARD: The broad effort to improve Dayton schools