Gwinnett County Public Schools announced last year on Aug. 15 that it had zero job vacancies.
Though the staffing report was released the week following the first day of classes in Gwinnett County, the Human Resources department was able to fill all of its vacant positions the week before the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Considering the July 2019 report showed 62 total vacancies, the district filled all of those positions in less than a month.
“We do like to start the school year on a full staff,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said in September. “Now, I think we just got that the last week, we just got the last teacher. It’s getting tougher. The pipeline is not as plentiful as it used to be.”
The district, though, is not sitting on its hands when it comes to hiring new teachers in January. The final day for Gwinnett teachers to request transfers to schools within the district is 5 p.m. today. The deadline is earlier this year than in previous years. The window has also traditionally been one week longer than this year. The window opened on Jan. 17.
GCPS Executive Director of HR Staffing Monica Batiste said the change in timing is in response to the typically early volume of responses.
“Historically, we’ve had a high volume of people in the first week submit and then it dwindles,” Batiste said.
Batiste also said principals will be able to interview candidates earlier and will be able to know the vacancies they need to fill prior to the slew of upcoming teaching job fairs. Some teachers requesting transfers are interviewing now, Batiste said, and that will continue through Jan. 31. The end of the month is the deadline for principals to hire teachers transferring to different schools.
Frances Davis, GCPS’ interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Talent Management, said during Thursday’s staffing report the district office is currently trying to fill 41 vacancies. That’s after an estimated 91 teachers “separated” from the district since November. Teacher retirements and relocations after the first semester are typical after the winter break.
“These numbers are expected and very much like they have been in the past,” Davis said.
January, February and March are prime hiring months for the district. GCPS has held several information sessions for prospective job candidates this month, and several major job fairs are upcoming.
Gwinnett County’s invitation only special education job fair is set for Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center. There are 112 special education teaching candidates scheduled to interview for jobs in the 2020-21 school year. There were 17 vacancies listed for special education in the county this year.
“This is the first of our job fairs as we move into the final parts of this school year,” Davis said.
There will be a STEM Walk-in Career Fair from 8 a.m. to noon on Feb. 8. The county’s large-scale spring job fair has not been announced but will be scheduled for March.
The ramped-up recruiting efforts are working toward a goal of having a few vacancies as possible prior to the New Teacher Orientation in July.
District leaders believe that massive orientation event is an early staff development opportunity for new hires.
“We provide training for overall school processes,” Batiste said. “It gives them an opportunity to start ahead of the instructional calendar and meet district leaders and understand holistically how we employ our instructional staff.”