The Orangeburg County School District is projecting about 70 job vacancies for the next school year, down from the 205 vacancies the district had going into the current school year.
"That is less than half of what we started with for the year," District Director of Classified Staff Loretta Gadson-Washington told trustees during a Tuesday board work session.
"This means we are doing something in Orangeburg County to keep our people,” she said.
About 54 of the positions are for certified staff and the other 16 are for classified staff.
Certified staff are individuals that must have certificate that proves they have obtained the necessary credentials and knowledge for the position. Teachers must either be certified or working towards certification in the public school system.
Classified staff typically work in support positions such as food service, maintenance and clerical.
Gadson-Washington said the projected number of vacancies was based on a survey sent out Jan. 21 asking employees what their plans are for the coming school year.
She said when the district started July 1, 2020, there were 104 vacancies in certified staff and 101 vacancies in classified staff. Of those, 18 certified staff positions and four classified positions were never filled.
A district job fair is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to noon at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Building S.
District Director for Certified Personnel Jerome Davis said the district has specifically found it difficult to attract teachers in math, science, special education, music, fine arts and foreign languages.
Last year, the district hired 73 new teachers, with a majority being from alternative certification programs and international teachers.
Overall, the district has 865 teachers -- 106 new teachers, 87 annual contract and 672 continuing contract teachers. Of these 865 teachers, 102 are from other countries.
In an attempt to help with employee recruitment, both Gadson-Washington and district Chief of Human Resources Ernest Holiday said the district is in the process of implementing a technologically based data system called Frontline Education that will help streamline the hiring process.
Holiday said retaining teachers is a “chore for everybody” and noted teacher shortages are real everywhere. He said the district is committed to hiring the best personnel for the betterment of children in the county.
Holiday noted an assistant principal academy is also being kicked off in the district.
"We are trying to grow our own here within the district," Holiday said.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Darrell Johnson noted the academy will prepare individuals to assume the position of principal should a vacancy or need arise.
"We need an AP (assistant principal) ready who is willing to become principal at the drop of a hat," he said.
In other matters:
• School board Secretary Idella Carson and trustee Mary Ulmer gave a legislative advocacy update on their visit to Washington, D.C. for the National School Boards Association Advocacy Institute earlier this month.
The event provides local school board members an opportunity to advocate for public education on the national level.
Trustee Ruby Edwards asked if any federal money will be coming down to help the district. Ulmer said no.
• Trustees prayed for the safe return home of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik of Cayce, who has been missing since Monday afternoon. The girl had come home from school and has not been seen since.
• The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25. The meeting will be held at the district headquarters at 102 Founders Court.
The meeting will include discussion on the importance of filling out the 2020 census. James-Tyler noted that Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, recently noted the county schools lost about $10 million in the past due to failure of all to complete the census.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.
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