Hire teachers sooner

Letters to the editor

Posted: Friday, June 10, 2005

It is a fact that the Juneau School District consistently fails to attract talented teachers. Over the years many teachers hoping to work in Juneau have accepted positions for the coming year in other districts because they are offered these positions before the end of the school year.

The school districts that are able to attract these teachers are starting the hiring process earlier than Juneau. In Seattle, for example, the budget is decided upon by the Legislature in time for hiring to take place in April and May (and bi-annually, not annually).

Additionally, in many districts that are able to attract talented teachers, there are financial penalties for announcing resignation after a certain date. This insures that administrators will be able to announce openings in time to attract top quality candidates. No such consequences are in place in Juneau.

In Juneau, the education budget gets tied up with other items and typically is not released to school administrators until late spring. Thus, announcements for open positions often do not come out until June or July, or even later. Most top-notch teachers have already accepted positions for the coming year by the time the Juneau School District's announcements come out. This significantly decreases the chances of attracting new talent into the district.

We need to make changes that allow administrators to advertise open positions on a timeline similar to that of other desirable districts around the United States. And we need to establish some effective incentives prompting teachers to give timely notice of resignation.

As a beautiful small town with incredible outdoor recreation opportunities and substantial community involvement in education, Juneau has the potential to attract talented teachers from all over the country. With the new small learning communities initiative and a new high school in the works, this town will likely need more good teachers soon. Will we allow the Legislature and resistance to change to influence the caliber of education available in this school district? Or will we lobby for the necessary changes?

Josh Robins


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