City hopes to draw 500 teachers from job fair Officials are expecting more than 800 applicants

May 14, 1998|By Stephen Henderson | Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF

With the lure of newly competitive salaries and planned housing and relocation incentives, Baltimore's public schools hope to snag more than 500 new teachers during a job fair Saturday at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School.

School officials expect that more than 800 applicants will show up for the fair, which is designed to attract young, energetic teachers to the city.

At a similar fair in August, nearly 600 applicants turned out, yielding more than 200 instructors.

"Right now, we're in a highly competitive market for new teachers," said Albrie Love, the school system's director of personnel services. "It used to be that we were in a position to shop around, but teachers are more selective today. They want to know about training we might offer them. They want to know about the community and what will be done to welcome them into it."

Last month, city schools took an important step toward competitiveness when entry-level teacher pay was raised to within $1,500 of Baltimore County's starting salaries. The difference had been more than $3,000.

In addition, Love said, plans are in the works to offer new teachers $5,000 grants to help them buy homes in certain Baltimore neighborhoods, with another $1,000 in loans to help them relocate.

"We're trying to create a kind of one-stop shopping, where they can come and do everything they need to get set up in the community at once," Love said. "That whole idea is fairly new to education, but it's necessary to stay competitive."

Love said the school system also is enhancing teacher training programs and looking into teacher mentorship programs to make city schools more appealing.

"New teachers are almost demanding those kinds of things now," Love said.

The instructors will replace retiring teachers and help augment the city's teaching ranks to lower class sizes.

Qualified applicants will be hired at the fair, pending background and reference checks.

For years, Baltimore has struggled to attract and retain teachers. Low salaries and a challenging urban environment have kept many young college graduates from applying to work in city schools. School officials estimated last year that nearly half of all new teachers who do get jobs in city schools leave within their first four years.

"Our bottom line is to create working conditions that are conducive to one of the school system's objectives -- hiring talented, inspired and devoted teachers, reducing classroom size and improving academics at all levels," said interim schools chief Robert E. Schiller.

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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