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Turlock Unified enacts plan to recruit highly-qualified teachers
TUSD teacher pic
So far, Turlock Unified School District has been able to attract enough qualified new teachers, like Hillary Zaklan, a third grade teacher at Medeiros Elementary School. In order to continue to attract highly-qualified teachers, the District is implementing new procedures such as hiring earlier for the 2016-17 year. - photo by Journal file photo

As teacher shortages continue to exasperate school districts across the country, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jason Maggard unveiled a plan of action on Tuesday to help Turlock Unified School District attract and retain only the best teachers for its students.

“As a result of the recession, budgets were left uncertain and many school districts were forced into layoffs,” said Maggard. “People interested in pursuing education opted against it as jobs were not available."

Despite widespread teacher shortages, Maggard said that TUSD has remained a highly desirable district. While some school districts were forced to open the school year with substitutes in place, Maggard said that TUSD was able to start the 2014-2015 school year fully staffed.

“I think that’s a huge testament to our board, to our administration, to our teachers and to our support staff,” said Maggard. “We really do have an amazing district. People want to come to Turlock. It is highly desirable.

“Despite the difficulties many districts throughout the state have had in staffing qualified teachers, TUSD has had the fortune of having teachers interested in working here,” continued Maggard.

In hopes of continuing that same success in 2015-2016, Maggard said TUSD’s mission is very clear: to attract and retain highly-qualified teachers who have a genuine passion for supporting the well-being of all students.

“We know what we want to do and we know what we want to accomplish,” said Maggard. “We want to get out there and we want to compete with our neighboring districts. We are about bringing the best people to our district. That’s our top priority.”

Maggard said that TUSD’s plan for action includes maintaining communication with local colleges and universities. In visiting classes at Stanislaus State this past semester, Maggard said that he and Director of Human Resources Rod Hollars gained a better idea of what students are looking for in a teaching position.  Among other aspects, students said that it was important to them that the school district they work for includes support, good working conditions and fair compensation.

In an effort to be proactive, TUSD also has plans to hire early for the 2016-2017 school year. To demonstrate this, Maggard said that the district has already hired two new teachers, who were unable to teach at TUSD this year due to contractual obligations.

“We have to get out early to secure the best teachers to work with our students as all neighboring districts are vying for the same people,” said Maggard.

While TUSD enrollment trends over the past four years have remained relatively steady at nearly 14,000 students, the District’s hiring trend has proven to be less predictable. While some years only see a few new teachers, such as 35 new hires in 2014-2015, other years welcome a spike in new teachers, such as 105 new hires in 2013-2014. This increased number was due to a retirement incentive that was provided at that time, according to Maggard.