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Recruiting season opens for Clayton school system

By Greg Gelpi

Zipping from college to college and state to state, the Clayton County school system has launched its spring recruiting efforts.

Teachers fled from the school system when the school system was placed on probation in May by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Potential recruits, though, think that the school system is getting back on track with the hiring of Superintendent Barbara Pulliam, Coordinator of Recruiting Donald Dunnigan said.

"It seemed to be a positive thing that we have a superintendent in place," Dunnigan said of his recruiting efforts. "It's always tough recruiting, but you have to keep plugging at it."

The school system held its first of six job fairs Feb. 7 at Kendrick Middle School, giving about 140 people the opportunity to meet county principals.

"These are people who are moving into the area, moving into Georgia, that are looking for jobs," Dunnigan said.

Job fair visitors came from Texas, Wisconsin and places in between.

Last week alone, Dunnigan was in Macon, Augusta, and Nashville, Tenn., at job fairs, and the spring recruiting season is just warming up.

"We're off and running," Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Ed Scott said. "We're actively involved in the recruiting process. The numbers look pretty good as far as the number of people we're seeing."

The school system hasn't issued the school allotment for teachers as of yet, Scott said. Every year the school system determines the number of teachers to allot for each school. In addition, the school system will have two new schools open in the fall, which must be staffed.

Scott said recruiting in the spring involves visits to about 70 colleges and universities, including visits to all state schools with education programs. Dunnigan will also visit job fairs and colleges in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission approved a new policy recently, which both Scott and Dunnigan said will help teacher recruitment.

"You're still going to have to have the appropriate degree and pass the appropriate tests," Scott said. "Certification is the key. We're looking for highly qualified teachers."

The policy allows teachers with a relevant degree to pass a series of tests to become certified to teach, rather than return to school to become certified.

Scott said anything that would remove "barriers" would "certainly assist us in hiring qualified teachers."

He also said that the school system is using nontraditional recruiting strategies as well, including using the Internet and international recruiting.