Natchez-Adams School District looking for 43 new teachers

Published 12:04 am Sunday, July 5, 2015

NATCHEZ — With just more than a month from the start of school, the Natchez-Adams School District is looking to fill 43 vacant teaching positions next year.

That’s approximately 16 percent of a planned total of 267 positions available in the 2015-16 school year in the Natchez district.

By comparison, the Concordia Parish School District has three open positions to fill out of a total of 252 teaching positions.

Email newsletter signup

Because of those openings, the Natchez-Adams School District is actively looking to bring new blood to the area.

NASD Public Relations Coordinator Steven Richardson said the district is visiting career fairs primarily as a way to find new teachers.

“(Teachers) are wanting to make a difference,” Richardson said. “We are offering them the opportunity.”

Richardson said the district is also working with Natchez Inc. and the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce to find attractions that could be offered to a younger crowd of teachers.

However, both districts are down in position openings at this point in the year from previous years.

Richardson said the district had 63 openings at this time last year.

Teacher needs in the district include special education, math and science, physical education, English, business, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Spanish, elementary education and gifted student education.

Richardson said the district hopes to fill a number of the vacancies yet this summer through job fairs targeted at teachers.

Short of that, the district uses non-certified substitutes where it can, meaning in classes on which students do not depend for graduation credit.

“We definitely try to place students with the certified individual with the expertise, but then we strategically place subs in classes,” he said. “We merge some of the classes, increase the numbers to a certain amount so students can be placed with that certified instructor.”

The search for certified teachers continues through the school year.

“At any given point, we could have the certified individual in the classroom,” he said.

NASD employed 267 teachers and 89 teacher’s assistants to instruct its 3,546 students at its eight schools at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

The student-to-teacher ratio in the district was approximately one teacher to every 13 students.

The district’s total budgeted salaries were $20,731,139 for the 2014-2015 school year, he said.

This included $11,214,632 for teachers, $2,342,639 for administrators and $1,838,037 for support staff. Richardson said the remaining funds are used for teacher assistants, secretaries, bookkeepers and other staff.

NASD employed 40 administrators last school year and plans to employ the same amount for the 2015-16 school year.

Concordia Parish School District Superintendent Paul Nelson said his district is utilizing career fairs and Teach For America as an avenue to find new teachers.

Teach For America is a program that places teachers in struggling school districts, and Nelson said the district has benefitted from this program.

“We’ve had a lot of luck with Teach For America,” Nelson said. “This is our fourth year using them. It’s harder and harder to find and get (teachers), and Teach for America draws from a nation-wide pool of potential teachers.”

Richardson said, to his knowledge, the Natchez school district hasn’t worked with Teach For America in the recent past.

“I’m very familiar with Teach For America, but we haven’t worked with them since I’ve been here. I’m not sure if the district has experience with them prior to that,” he said.

Of the three openings remaining in the Concordia Parish district, one is for a special education teacher and two are for high school math teachers.

Nelson said the number of teachers needed for next year is down as well compared to previous years because the school district is removing positions.

“We cut 15 positions back last year,” Nelson said. “We will probably cut back between six and nine this year. We are downsizing in a way, so we aren’t looking for as many people.”

Nelson said the positions are added or removed to accommodate the needs of students.

CPSD employed 252 teachers and 69 teacher’s assistants to instruct its 3,540 students at its 10 schools.

The student-to-teacher ratio in the parish is one teacher to every 14 students, he said.

CPSD plans to employ 255 teachers next year, pending the three openings get filled.

Nelson said those openings were supposed to be contracted by June 1, but anticipates some changes in staff over the summer.

Rhonda Moore, personnel coordinator for CPSD, said seven teachers are retiring, eight are leaving and no teachers are anticipated to be non-renewed for next year.

Total budgeted salaries were $19,134,000 in the 2014-2015 school year in Concordia Parish, Moore said.

This included $10,977,417 for teachers, $1,166,265 for administrators and $2,549,055 for support staff.

The remaining salaries are used to pay faculty and staff at the district level.

Concordia Parish Schools employed 20 administrators during the 2014-15 school year, and will continue to employ 20 for the 2015-2016 school year.