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District working to place teachers

SUWANEE - Gwinnett County Public Schools is working to find permanent positions for 48 staff members, including 33 teachers who have not been given a classroom, Associate Superintendent Francis Davis said Thursday.

Because the district's growth has not met projections, a hiring freeze has been in place since the second day of school, Davis told the Gwinnett County Board of Education.

"No contracted teacher will lose their job," Davis said. "All of them will be placed in a position where they will be able to teach. ... As we grow over the next few months, we'll look at putting them into a

classroom."

The district is also trying to place a counselor, 11 paraprofessionals and three clerical workers, Davis said.

The only people who may be let go from their jobs are retirees who work part time, district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.

Davis said the district is fortunate to have 61 vacancies for stellar substitutes, who are each placed at a school to cover classes. Teachers who are used to fill these positions will maintain their current salaries, Davis said.

"We are very fortunate to all work for an organization that cares enough about people (to whom) we offer contracts to hold up our end of the agreement," Davis said. "We work with people, and we want to take care of people and make sure we are treating people with the utmost care."

Any positions that open up will be filled by current employees, but Davis said there are a few teaching positions open that she cannot fill internally. The district has positions for two chemistry teachers, a biology teacher, a French and Spanish teacher and half-time positions for a French teacher, Latin teacher and business education teacher.

The district has hired 1,722 teachers this year, bringing the teacher work force to 11,779. Since the beginning of the year, the district has received applications from 19,872 people, including 18,177 who are not currently GCPS employees.

A post-Labor Day student count of 155,728 fell short of the district's projected enrollment of 159,258 students.

In other business, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced the district is a recipient of a $3.5 million grant from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The money will be used to fund the Quality-Plus Leader Academy, which will help train educators who aspire to be principals.

District officials project there will be a need for 100 new principals and 400 new assistant principals by 2012.

"We have been very fortunate in Gwinnett that we have been able to attract, develop and retain good leaders," said Glenn Pethel, the district's executive director of leadership development. "However, there is a great demand and competition for those leaders and for those who aspire to leadership positions. The support of the Broad Foundation will allow us to provide future leaders with a more comprehensive preparation program."

The district on Thursday received its first payment of $624,000, Pethel said.

The other grant recipients are Long Beach Unified School District and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

School board member Robert McClure said he was "exceptionally pleased" the district received this grant.

"I think the Quality-Plus Leader Academy is invaluable, but it's also not free," McClure said. "I'm impressed they think it's worthy. ... Mr. Broad does not like to throw his money around."