California school districts have announced plans to hire 21,500 teachers for the 2015-16 academic year. This announcement shows a recovery in the health of California school districts. School districts plan to take on additional teachers in order to reduce class sizes, and expand course options. The new hiring will be possible thanks to increased state tax revenue. The revenue increase can largely be attributed to improved economic conditions following the 2008 recession and the 2012 tax hike.
In their recent article in The Sacramento Bee, Loretta Kalb and Phillip Reese explain that during the economic downturn following the 2008 recession, new teachers were vulnerable to layoffs since districts cut staff based largely on seniority. The newcomers able to keep their jobs faced the annual prospect of being reassigned to a different grade level, subject or school. The districts have pursued this new hiring with zeal. Districts have started to offer higher than average pay, provide unique benefits, and hold job fairs. Kalb and Reese also report that the fifth-largest school district in California, Elk Grove Unified, “held a recruitment fair in March and called for language teachers in Spanish, Japanese and French and for those in math, physical sciences and special education”. And that district spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton, stated Elk Grove Unified currently employs about 3,400 teachers and calculated it will need to hire more than 150 more for the Fall.
Despite the dominant trend, not every district is hiring at the same rate. San Juan and Sacramento City unified, two large California school districts which each employ about 2,000 teachers, are facing flat or declining enrollment, and plan to hire fewer teachers this Fall than they did last year. Specifically, it was reported that “San Juan, which hired nearly 190 teachers for 2014-15, projects up to 80 additional teachers for the Fall. Sacramento City, which brought nearly 100 teachers on board this year, expects to cut hiring in half for the next school year.” It was also reported that Tom Alves, executive director of the San Juan Teachers Association, believes touting benefits such as class-size reduction and retirement will allow many districts to increase diversity among their teaching ranks and better reflect the student population.
“After years of layoffs, California schools on a teacher hiring binge” By Loretta Kalb and Phillip Reese