Wanted: more diverse hires

School district has about 50 minority teachers, report says

February 25, 2007|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,[Sun Reporter]

Within Carroll County school system's work force, women employees drastically outnumber men, minorities remain few in number, and staff members close to retirement are increasing in the ranks, according to a new diversity report.

That report compared work force data from January 2002 to data from January 2007.

Overall, the employee pool has grown 25 percent to 3,690, from 2,952, the report stated. Similar growth percentages appeared in the separate areas of teaching and administration.

Women represent three times more of the total work force than men, and have increased at a slightly faster rate than men over the five-year period. They also account for nearly four times more of the teaching staff.

While 78 minorities were counted among employees in 2002, that number rose to 105 this year - a 35 percent increase.

At last week's meeting, board member Thomas Hiltz said that although he was "initially pretty impressed" with the percentage increase of minority employees, a closer look at the numbers muted that first impression.

"I find that's a little misleading," Hiltz said.

Minority employees are 4 percent of the entire school system work force, according to the report. And out of the district's nearly 2,250 teachers this January, about 50 were minorities.

"I just want to make sure that we capture where we are," Hiltz said.

Hiltz then asked Jimmie Saylor, director of human resources, whether there was some kind of structure or plan to promote work force diversity.

Saylor said her department had a "very active and involved recruitment program," and described the 70 or so career fairs attended in the search for candidates, along with a countywide job fair.

In addition, she added, they attend fairs at historically black colleges and universities throughout the nation to increase the number of diverse applicants.

Recruitment coordinator Anna-Maria Halstead said she has strived over the past seven years to make the number of black colleges she visits 20 percent of the total sites visited.

She also follows up with candidates from those schools. She has visited eight minority job fairs this school year and has another eight coming up.

Halstead said the school system's small number of minority employees frustrated and discouraged her. But those feelings also challenged her to keep plugging away to bring some of the "highly qualified" people she regularly encounters into Carroll.

"It's more than a numbers game for me," Halstead said.

Lorraine Fulton, assistant superintendent of instruction, said having more male and minority teachers on staff is "extremely important."

"We're looking at ways that we can expand not only the recruitment process but also ways to make us more inviting," Fulton said. "We need to make sure the community itself is welcoming to teachers who may come from different backgrounds."

To that end, Fulton said, she meets with the education committee of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People every couple of months.

The school system is also "looking more and more" at drawing people from the workplace who turn to teaching as a second career.

There's also the homegrown approach, Fulton and Saylor said, encouraging youth to see education as a profession worth entering. At Westminster's Winters Mill High School, for example, a new teaching class was recently launched.

Such classes could also help address what the report noted as an "alarming" trend: the rise in employees approaching retirement age.

This school year, the district hired almost 250 new teachers, she said. While some filled positions created for full-day kindergarten or other programs, others were replacing individuals who had resigned or retired, Saylor said.

arin.gencer@baltsun.com

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