The Houston ISD is heading out to California (and later to Louisiana, Michigan and Florida!) to recruit teachers, its press office announced today.
Specifically, it is looking for bilingual, secondary math and science teachers and cash-strapped California -- where reportedly more than 20,000 teachers are facing the prospect of pink slips in the next few months -- is a niche market right now.
"As school districts across the nation face the difficult task of laying off teachers, the Houston Independent School District is not only looking for highly effective teachers to join their Texas team but is offering hiring bonuses," the release from the district's press office began.
Um, the only thing is, it was just 20 days ago on March 4, at the HISD budget agenda workshop, when the administration announced it was eliminating at least 269 positions and that there would be more to come as a way of combating budget shortages. Superintendent Terry Grier and his staff said there would be a hiring freeze until it was determined whether the lost jobs would be taken care of by attrition or the employees could move to other positions. They also said new positions could be created in their ambitious reorganization, which might result in even more cutbacks in previous staffing.
In fact, on the agenda for tomorrow (Thursday) morning's special meeting are a couple of items having to do with employee reductions at HISD.
Sarah Greer Osborne in the HISD media relations office expressed surprise at all the local interest in the announcement that the state would be going out to hire teachers. "We went to California a couple years ago," she said.
Asked about this timing of this year's enterprise given HISD's own shaky finances, Osborne said "Most of the positions being cut are not teachers." And the positions they're looking for "in three critical shortage areas" are always tough ones to fill, she said.
The hiring bonuses are as follows: as much as $6,000 for bilingual education, secondary math and science. Special-ed teachers could get a $5,000 bonus. And for the first time, "in an effort to lure talent outside of Texas," the district offers a $1,500 bonus for critical-shortage candidates.
Asked about the out-of-state effort, one Friend of Hair Balls and long time education specialist in Texas opined that whenever school districts look outward while at the same time trimming their own ranks, it's usually to bring in younger (cheaper) teachers.
In the case of California teachers, about to be unemployed and desperate, Houston with its much lower cost of living could look like the Promised Land.
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