Staffing Hard-to-Staff Schools: Examples from the Field
ABC Unified School District (Calif.)
The ABC Unified School District, located in southeast Los Angeles County, in partnership with the ABC Federation of Teachers (ABCFT), its local union, launched a comprehensive initiative to address the challenges within the district's hard-to-staff schools. They instituted an interconnected set of recruitment, retention and retirement practices to target the district's teacher recruitment and retention challenges. At the annual New Teachers' Orientation, newcomers are welcomed and acclimated to ABC, its expectations and the district's available resources and supports. During the summers, the district offers a Professional Development Academy for teachers to focus on ways to improve student learning, such as curriculum training and classroom management. The negotiated contract provides entry salaries that are in the area's top quartile as well as $5,000 to new hires, which can be used to defray the high costs of housing and transportation that come with teaching there. This incentive is just one component of an aggressive package developed through collaboration between the district and the union. Today, there are no hard-to-staff schools in ABC. Federal and state funds are used to support such district/union efforts.
New York State
New York state provides a unique network of more than 100 teacher centers that have the capacity to support teachers in learning the instructional strategies that lead to success in hard-to-staff schools. This kind of professional development lessens the isolation of teachers who struggle to implement effective strategies while facing obstacles that often lead to teachers looking for jobs in other schools. Teacher centers are funded by grants directly from the state Legislature, and each center is governed by a policy board. As defined in New York law, these policy boards must include a majority of teachers appointed by the collective bargaining agent. There are three models of teacher centers in the state, and each center has the capacity to respond to the unique and targeted professional development needs of its constituents. The New York City center is a multiple-schools model; the single-district model is a direct-service model; and the comprehensive model provides smaller districts with a collaborative framework that brings together their resources to maximize capacity and reach.