Board asks for $30M to recruit teachers


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:12 p.m.

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  • New teachers are needed to replace those who retire or leave for other jobs, keep pace with Florida's growing population and meet a constitutional requirement for reduced class sizes.

  • ORLANDO - The state Board of Education will ask the Legislature for $30 million to recruit the more than 30,000 additional teachers Florida needs by next fall - and keep the ones they already have from leaving for other states with better salaries.
    In a legislative proposal approved Tuesday, the board also suggested postponing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test science test from 10th grade to 11th grade and reforming high school graduation requirements to allow students to focus on a major similar to when in college. Those who fail a high school course also wouldn't be held back a grade, and instead allowed to retake it while remaining on track with classmates.
    "This legislative session is, in my opinion, a great opportunity to take a step forward," Education Commissioner John Winn said.
    New teachers are needed to replace those who retire or leave for other jobs, keep pace with Florida's growing population and meet a constitutional requirement for reduced class sizes.
    "Florida will be hiring more teachers than any other state in the coming year," board chairman Phil Handy said.
    The board in August endorsed a $19.3 billion education budget for the 2006-07 school year, a $1.3 billion increase from the present budget.
    Those numbers may be different after Gov. Jeb Bush submits his budget recommendations. The Legislature has the final say next spring.
    Local school districts would have to match the state's $30 million for teacher recruitment and retention, which could include performance pay, housing assistance and extra money for those working in poor or rural districts. The board's proposal also included provisions to lessen paperwork teachers have to complete and provide more support from school administrators.
    K-12 Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke also unveiled a more aggressive marketing strategy to lure more teachers through the Internet and face-to-face meetings at job fairs and conventions. Those targeted include some unconventional sources, like military personnel, retired teachers and people looking for a career change - in addition to those already teaching in other states.
    Coral Gables-based advertising firm Cooper DDB is helping revise the state's recruiting Web site, www.TeachInFlorida.com, identify audiences and place ads in college and trade magazines for prospective teachers.
    "Recruitment is extremely competitive," said Al Bouie, director of recruitment for Volusia County Schools. "Other states are looking for teachers too, and those districts are working just as hard as we are."
    The board is also requesting $4 million for a professional development program to recruit and retain current and aspiring school principals. The plan was rejected by the Legislature last year.

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