Manteca Unified had all but one needed teacher in place when classes started earlier this month.
It was due to a concerted effort to make recruitment as important as the proverbial 3 Rs — writing, reading, and arithmetic.
Manteca Unified succeeded without having to resort to signing bonus that are running as high as $10,000 in Bay Area districts squeezed by housing prices that are among the highest in the nation. San Jose is the country’s housing market where a typical home costs $1.085 million and a one bedroom apartment can rent for over $2,800 a month. San Francisco is the second priciest market as a typical home costs $885,000.
Manteca was able to hire 97 new teachers and credentialed specialists before the first school bell rang. The only position they are still working on filling is a music teacher.
“To be clear we had some classes start with substitute teachers because those hired still haven’t cleared background checks,” noted Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke. “But they have been hired and are ready to be put in place.”
It is a sharp contrast to last school year when a number of teaching positions weren’t filled until after school started leaving students with substitute teachers for weeks or, in a few rare cases, more than a month.
After that happened, District Superintendent Jason Messer and the school board made it a goal to have every needed teacher hired before August. That included projecting needs well in advance. The strategy involved going after teacher with credentials to teach multiple grades to plug in when student enrollment at various levels because clear as opening day neared as well as hiring hard-to-get teachers such as those specializing in math, science and education in advance of the need being created.
The district’s human resources administrators started visiting university campuses in November, attending numerous job fairs in the region, and conducted the district’s own job fair in February. At the district job fair 60 tentative offers of employment were made.
Goatcher said the district didn’t leave any stone unturned.
Goatcher, as an example, made numerous visits to the University of Pacific in Stockton and California State University, Turlock.
“You can’t assume the students that are looking for teacher jobs even know where Manteca is even though they are close by,” Goatcher said. “Stanislaus students from Southern California may not have gone (this far north ever).”
He added many UOP students gravitate to Sacramento which would reduce the odds of them being aware of Manteca Unified.
In addition Goatcher visited Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and volunteered for various mock interview sessions at colleges that are designed to help students prepare for their job search.
“It is a good way to build a relationship with students,” Goatcher said. “Sometimes you don’t get them out of college but they may go somewhere else and then several years down the road they will contact you.”
Manteca makes itself
attractive to lure
With a statewide teaching shortage pegged at 10,000, Manteca Unified hasn’t been leaving things to chance.
Over the years they have position the district to be as attractive as possible to not just the brightest and most promising newcomers to the profession but experienced veterans as well.
They have done that by:
uOffering the highest compensation of all districts within San Joaquin County and all but one district in Stanislaus County.
uAllowing teachers with almost 20 years of experience to move to Manteca Unified without losing their step on salary schedules. That made it possible for almost two thirds of the teachers the district hired this year to begin with the 10 to 14 years of experience.
uPromoting the same community draws that are bringing people from the Bay Area to Manteca — affordable housing, family friendly living, close proximity to the Bay Area, Sierra and other draws.
uA commitment to excellence anchored by the holistic Going Digital approach to the classrooms.
The way the distinct has approached introducing the tools into classrooms can’t be emphasized enough.
Burke said it has given Manteca Unified a step or two up on the ladder with getting the attention of newly minted college graduates that are plugged into tech. At the same time it draws veteran teachers that see it as a big plus as well.
One veteran teacher, as an example, opted to teach in Manteca Unified because of that. She commutes from her home in Monterey and returns on the weekends.
Bay Area districts such as San Jose Unified are still scrambling to fill some pf the 225 positions they had to fill that represented 13 percent of their workforce. They have resorted to using signing bonuses to secure teachers with hard to find specialties.
Manteca’s 97 teacher hires represent 9 percent of its 1,100 credentialed teachers.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org