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GCPS set to hire 850 teachers for next school year

SUWANEE — With enrollment expected to top 172,000 students next year, Gwinnett County Public Schools is looking for more than 800 new teachers.

Associate Superintendent Frances Davis said Thursday at a Gwinnett County Board of Education work session that the district expects to hire 850 teachers as it makes personnel plans for next school year. The district has 17 vacancies, mostly in special education, which continues to be listed as a “critical need” area in the district’s staffing reports.

Davis said the district would use its new computer software, AppliTrack, to monitor applicants.

On its Facebook page Tuesday, the district said it was looking for certified teachers in math, science, special education, engineering and Latin.

In recent months, the district has also experienced shortages in speech language pathology, middle and high school French and Spanish teachers and bus managers.

To find new employees, the district will hold its annual job fair from 8 a.m. to noon March 22 at the Gwinnett Center.

“We’re really, really focusing more heavily on our critical needs,” Davis said. “There are some areas that are not as critical as others, so we’re making sure we’re reaching out to all of the applicants in the critical needs area.”

eCLASS to expand

Soon to enter its fourth year of the technology initiative called eCLASS, the district announced it would be expand the curriculum and instruction tool to 54 schools next school year, said Tricia Kennedy, GCPS’ executive director of eCLASS transformation.

The initiative began in 33 pilot schools in the Archer, Berkmar, Duluth, North Gwinnett and Shiloh clusters.

While 53 schools currently use the network for the “Bring Your Own Device” component of eCLASS, Kennedy said about 100 schools have wireless connections needed to support BYOD.

“We have momentum in all our schools,” Kennedy said. “We’re increasing the ways technology is supporting learning. We’re building on that momentum. We have multiple ways for our teachers to receive training on the tools.”

Discipline report

In his second quarter discipline report, James Taylor, executive director of academic support, said there was a decrease by 132 panels compared to the second quarter of last year. There was also a decrease in out-of-school suspensions by 326 and a decrease in in-school suspensions by 628 over the same comparison.

In the second quarter, there were 333 major rule violations, 4,072 out-of-school suspensions and 8,499 in-school suspensions. Ninth grade saw the highest number of incidents.

Taylor said the first two quarters offer a snapshot, but it’s not until the third quarter that he’s able to see “hard trends” and draw any conclusions.

TADs reauthorization

The board of education repealed the original Tax Authorization Districts authorizations and re-enacted the five TAD authorizations to establish the TAD digest base at the current values. The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners took action in December. The financial impact is up to an estimated $25 million in additional annual property tax revenue at TAD completion.

Title I program growth

Associate Superintendent Kevin Tashlein announced that Jackson Elementary in Lawrenceville is projected to be a Title I targeted assisted school in the 2014-15 school year. A targeted assisted school identifies specific groups of students with the greatest academic need using standardized, district and local school tests, and teacher recommendations.

McKendree Elementary was identified this school year as a targeted assisted program.

Overall, the district counts 55 school-wide programs, where all students receive funding, as it’s steadily increased the number of such programs since 2007-08, when it had 27.

The Title I program is the largest federal assistance program for schools, and in this school year, the district received $38.6 million to support students most at risk for not meeting state academic standards. Funds are based on the number of students who receive free and reduced price lunch.

Summer school

Tashlein also announced that the elementary and middle school summer schedule would be from June 9 through July 2, and high school summer school would be from June 10 through July 9 at Dacula, Duluth and Parkview.

Also in the summer, local schools will have a four-day work week that runs from June 9 through July 17.