The never-ending search for effective new teachers is just a little easier nowthanks to some brand-new recruitment web sites.
“Until now, there was really no way for schools to recruit on a nationwide basis. The only way was to visit schools and place ads, neither of which are time-effective or cost-effective,” explained Michael Garmisa, cofounder of SchoolJobs.com, a commercial internet forum that fills teaching and other education-related posts.
“The pending teacher shortage has antiquated other education job sites, which place all selection tools in the hands of school administrators,” said William R. Mason, vice president of SchoolMatch, which created JobsinSchools.com. “Teacher candidates and others looking for employment in education are in a seller’s market and can be more selective.”
JobsinSchools.com does not provide information on job openings; instead, it helps educators prepare to offer their services to any school system they choose. The site also offers to sell visitors information about specific schools. A detailed report on a listed school sells for $19.95.
Sites like SchoolJobs.com and JobsinSchools.com are attempting to fill the void for superintendents, principals, and school administrators charged with the task of recruiting high-quality teachers from their own areasand across the country.
Until now, school districts seeking to fill positions for teachers, administrators, and other school personnel had to place expensive ads in newspapers or travel to job fairs across the country.
“Teacher shortages have plagued the U.S. educational system for years, in part because there was no efficient mechanism to recruit nationally,” said Mark Schulman, who cofounded SchoolJobs.com with Garmisa.
“We’re able to do this for a fraction of the price of other methods of recruitment,” Garmisa added.
Commercial recruitment sites generally charge schools or districts a flat rate for a year of unlimited use, and the sites allow for frequent updates on the schools’ ad listings.
“Schools can pay per ad. It’s $105 for a 30-day ad with unlimited space or $1,000 per year for membership and unlimited ads. The New York Times charges $800 per day for one square inch in their paper. [A year’s membership to] SchoolJobs is the same price as placing one ad in a metropolitan newspaper,” Garmisa said.
Recruitment web sites for educators also have the potential to relieve an enormous burden from school personnel who are in charge of finding new hires.
John Fraser, one of the founders of the Pennsylvania National School Applications Network (NSAN), a school-based recruiting organization, estimated that his secretary used to spend two and a half months per year opening mail from teaching applicants.
This deluge of paper flowing into school personnel departments each day is a common problem, according to educators.
“We are a small district, but it would not be unusual to get 1,000 applications and hire 20 of those,” said Allison Muehlhauser, personnel and grant assistant for Missouri’s Affton School District.
“From an administrative point of view, online recruitment cuts down on paperwork and allows schools to request only the exact paperwork they need from applicants.”
Fraser decided to give online school recruitment a try in Pennsylvania, where 33 school districts in the state have said they will sign up for the Regional Education Applicant & Placement (REAP) program, the NSAN’s online component.
“REAP is the combination of old technology, like databases, with new technology, like using the internet for data mining,” said George Simpson, deputy executive director for the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis, the group that created REAP.
Muehlhauser expects that the web might someday replace other forms of teacher recruitment. “Affton Schools hopes to move exclusively to REAP as soon as possible,” she said. “I personally think [the REAP program] is very cutting edge, and it just gets easier as they continue to make adjustments.”
The original REAP system in Missouri has been operating for a little more than two years, and of more than 9,000 applicants, 4,000 have been placed in schools. SchoolJobs.com went live in February and claims about 100 district memberships so far, representing about 1,000 schools.