Schenectady School District jobs in high demand
1,730 seek nine teaching vacancies
SCHENECTADY More than 1,700 teachers applied for just nine full-time positions in the Schenectady City School District this summer.
For the most popular position, an elementary school post, 753 teachers applied.
It was an unprecedented flood of teachers for the school district. By way of comparison, two years ago it had about 1,700 applicants for 96 openings, partly because of a retirement incentive.
Usually about 18 percent of the city’s 921 teachers leave the district each year. That turnover rate used to create plenty of vacancies, but not this year.
“With every teacher that left, we were looking closely at any way we could restructure,” said district spokeswoman Karen Corona. “We usually have many more openings. But we didn’t have any vacancies this year with the budget situation the way it was.”
The district cut 18 high school teachers and 30 other jobs, including teacher aides. Some teachers were bumped to other positions to avoid layoffs. After the dust settled, there was room to fill just nine vacancies.
The district received 1,730 applications for those positions and hundreds more for a handful of part-time positions.
The surge of applicants worked out to an average of 192 applicants per job. In previous years, the average was closer to 18 applicants per job.
Corona said the surge was likely due to teacher layoffs in other districts and a lack of new jobs for them.
“I think it’s a high number because the market is so competitive right now,” Corona said. “The teaching market — it’s very challenging.”
District officials expect the market to work in their favor.
They can choose the best of the best, cherry-picking teachers with the most impressive experience and those who have great data showing that their students improved under their tutelage.
They may also be able to hire more non-white teachers, a longtime goal for Schenectady. Most of the district’s teachers are white, while most of the students are not.
According to the district’s reports to the state Education Department, the student body is 35 percent black, 34 percent white, 15 percent Guyanese and Pacific Islander and 15 percent Latino.
This year, district recruiters went to historically black colleges and regions outside of the mostly white upstate in hopes of getting non-white teachers to apply.
District officials don’t yet know if that effort was successful.
“We don’t know the color or ethnicity until they come in for the interview,” Corona said, but added, “the odds are better with a larger pool.”
District officials picked the best candidates for interviews and are now beginning to choose their finalists through those interviews. For a few positions, the screening process wasn’t that bad; there were just two teachers for the one elementary school Chinese language position, for example, and just nine for the high school dance class position.
But even math and science specialties brought in many teachers.
For middle school math, 123 teachers applied. Middle school science brought in 108 applications.
Teaching English as a second language for grades seven to 12, a critical position for the district because of its large foreign-speaking population, garnered 134 applicants.
Two special education slots, which are usually difficult to fill, got 284 applicants.
District officials are thrilled.
“It’s always better when you have a large pool,” Corona said.