Carmel Clay Schools is feeling the impact of the state’s teacher shortage, but not nearly as much as many other districts.
Instead of having 300 to 400 applicants per open teacher position in elementary schools, for instance, CCS is attracting 50 to 75 interested candidates, according to Tom Oestreich, assistant superintendent of staff and student services, who presented an update on the district’s teacher recruitment efforts at the Feb. 28 school board meeting.
“Where we really feel the teacher shortage is when we have a maternity leave or medical leave we have to fill, and there are sometimes no candidates for those different leave positions,” Oestreich said.
Statewide, nearly 97 percent of school districts that responded to an annual survey by the Bayh College of Education at Indiana State University reported teacher shortages for the 2021-22 school year, which is the highest total since the survey launched in 2015.
CCS administrators have begun efforts to recruit new teachers to the district for the 2022-23 school year through virtual and in-person career fairs with colleges near and far. CCS has recently expanded its recruitment efforts at historically Black colleges and universities as it attempts to further diversify its workforce.
Oestreich credited Terri Roberts-Leonard, the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion officer, with broadening recruitment efforts.
“It’s because of her connections that we’re able to get these meetings,” Oestreich said. I’ve tried this before in a previous district I was in, and they wouldn’t open the door for me. Terri’s opening doors for us to get meetings with different universities across the country to see what we can do to get the best teachers in front of our kids.”
Oestreich said that between March and August 2021 CCS had a turnover rate of less than 5 percent – which includes retirements – among teachers, which he said is significantly lower than rates at many other districts.
Each January CCS administrators survey all teachers about their intentions to return for the following school year. The survey also includes questions about whether teachers would like to remain in their current position or switch to another school or grade level.
After tabulating the results, CCS moves teachers to fill positions internally before opening the search to external candidates for positions that remain. The vast majority of teachers choose to remain in their current positions, Oestreich said.