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October 31, 2014

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School District to spend $35.5 million for hundreds of new teachers

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Steve Marcus

New teachers “loosen up” as Scott Flansburg, Guinness World Record holder for fastest Human Calculator, gives a demonstration of his abilities during a Clark County School District orientation session for new teachers at the Venetian Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Over 1,700 teachers took part in the orientation.

The Clark County School Board on Thursday approved hiring hundreds of additional teachers next year to accommodate its growing student population.

The seven-member board unanimously approved a $2.1 billion tentative budget for fiscal 2015 that includes an extensive plan to hire more teachers, support staffers and administrators.

After several years of stagnant growth, the Clark County School District is growing again. As the Las Vegas economy begins to improve, families are returning to the valley and sending their children to public schools.

The School District — the nation’s fifth-largest — expects another record-breaking enrollment next year: nearly 318,000 students, up more than 3,300 pupils from this year. At the same time, the district faces a new state mandate to cap kindergarten class sizes to 23 students to 1 teacher.

Recruiters to use virtual job fair to find new teachers

To attract thousands of teachers to Clark County, the School District is beefing up its “Teach Vegas” campaign.

Launched last year, the campaign uses a combination of traditional and new online tools to recruit teachers to Las Vegas. In addition to the usual career fairs and teacher college visits, the district’s human resources department used social media and online jobs listings to solicit applicants.

This year, the School District plans to launch a new interactive web tool that would create a virtual career fair for potential new hires. Applicants can visit virtual career fair booths and chat with school administrators through instant messages and video-conferences.

The School District is talking with several technology vendors to purchase the virtual career fair program. A budget for the program has not been released.

To accommodate additional students and lower kindergarten class sizes, the district plans to hire 372 new teachers and 169 support staffers. The new hires will cost the district $35.5 million.

In addition, the School District plans to hire more administrators to lower its student-to-administrator ratios, which are among the highest nationally.

The district will hire 12 assistant principals at elementary schools with more than 550 students and 16 deans at middle schools with more than 1,300 students. These new hires will cost the district $3.1 million.

The additional hires represent a small part of the massive hiring operation the district conducts each year.

For the past several years, between 1,400 and 1,500 teachers have left the district each year due to retirements and resignations. There are also teachers who are promoted to administrative positions and some vacant positions.

To replenish its teacher pool, the School District will hire upwards of 2,000 teachers next year. However, of those hires, only about a quarter are for new teaching positions. Last year, the School District hired nearly 2,300 teachers, of which about 900 were for new teaching positions.

The School District can afford to hire additional teachers, support staffers and administrators because of increased tax revenues and school funding from the state. It will also realize savings from cutting contracts with for-profit education companies.

Next year, district officials anticipate a $43 million increase in property tax revenues and a $20 million increase in state per-pupil funding.

Clark County expects to receive $5,544 per student from the state next year, an $87 increase from this year.

In addition, the School District is cutting contracts with CatapultLearning (“Edison” schools) and Ombudsman Educational Services, an alternative education program serving at-risk students. The cuts are expected to save the district more than $7 million.

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