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Despite tough times, GCPS poised to hire
No layoffs planned, but not all jobs guaranteed

SUWANEE - In an economic climate that has caused some school systems to lay off employees or cancel job fairs, the state's largest school district is preparing to hire teachers for the upcoming year.

While more than 2,200 certified teachers interviewed Saturday for jobs with Gwinnett County Public Schools, the district remained committed to finding positions for its displaced employees before extending job offers, officials said.

Eighteen employees still need to be placed in a new position for the 2009-10 school year, spokesman Jorge Quintana said Friday.

On Feb. 12, Chief Human Resources Officer Frances Davis told the Gwinnett County Board of Education the school district did not plan to lay off any employees. However, retirees who work part time were informed they will not have positions next year.

That message was also delivered to the 49 Visiting International Faculty program members and four Intalage program participants, Quintana said. In mid-February, the district notified the programs, which allow educators from other countries to teach in the United States, that the district would not be able to continue the partnership next year.

"While we have enjoyed our relationship with VIF and Intalage, these positions were needed for our full-time teachers on contract who were going to be displaced next year," Quintana said. "We look forward to re-establishing our relationship with both programs in the future."

In accordance with Georgia law, part-year teachers - those who were hired after the start of the academic year - are not guaranteed positions and must be rehired "subject to position availability," Quintana said.

The school district will primarily focus on hiring math, science and special-education teachers.

"But we don't want to get into a situation where we overhire," school board member Carole Boyce said.

The applicant pool is large. The number of job seekers at Saturday's fair topped the 2008 spring event by more than 600 people.

Boyce attributed the school system's ability to hire teachers for the upcoming year on the district's growth.

"We are still growing, although our growth has slowed down," she said.

In 2005, enrollment grew by nearly 7,500 students from the year before. This year's student body grew by about 1,600 from last year. About 157,000 students attend Gwinnett County public schools.

"I am confident that from this job fair that we are going to have some very good choices (for highly qualified teachers)," Boyce said. "For our students, this will definitely be a winning situation for us to find the very best people out there."