Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Schools resume teacher hiring

District still to fill math, special education openings before other position

The Clark County School District hiring freeze has melted.

The Legislature’s decisions about budget cuts during its special session June 27 eliminated much of the uncertainty about the School District’s finances for the coming year, enabling the district to resume hiring, Superintendent Walt Rulffes decided late Monday.

As reported first by the Sun, Rulffes froze all hiring, with the exception of teachers for high-need areas such as math and special education, a week before the special session convened.

Lawmakers wound up trimming another $275 million from the budget, but the cuts did not result in the state’s largest school district having to lay off teachers or reassign specialists to cover classroom vacancies.

The Legislature also decided to preserve funding for teachers’ cost of living raises. District officials had been worried the district would be on the hook to cover that cost if the state backed out of it.

As of Tuesday, the district had hired 594 new teachers, with 797 vacancies remaining. The number of teacher vacancies changes daily as more people notify the district of plans to retire or resign before the start of the new academic year.

The district is also waiting for the latest enrollment projections to determine how many students will be expected on the first day of school.

High-need classroom positions will continue to be filled first. Central office administrative vacancies will remain unfilled as long as possible, Rulffes said.

News of the hiring thaw was hailed by teacher Maria Blois, who arrived Monday after a 1,400-mile drive from Corpus Christi, Texas, and was waiting to hear whether she would be offered a job. The district’s human resources office had asked her to be patient, Blois said.

“I’m ready to go at the drop of a hat,” Blois said. “All I need is for the phone to ring.”

Blois spent 15 years in the Navy, including four years aboard the USS Salvor, a rescue and salvage vessel. She taught sailors and divers everything from emergency medicine to how to triage patients in the event of a large-scale emergency.

Blois, who also has four years of experience working in Texas schools, hopes to teach allied health at one of the Clark County School District’s three career and technical academies, which include the new east region campus opening in August.

When asked whether it was risky to move to a new town without a guarantee of employment, Blois said she preferred to think of it as an adventure.

“That’s the good thing about having Navy experience,” said the former chief petty officer. “I wasn’t afraid to do this.”

At least one teacher, however, has been put off by Clark County — a Texas acquaintance on whom Blois had been counting to share the four-day drive.

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