HISD recruiting far and wide to fill openings

HOUSTON HISD says it's always looked outside Houston and Texas to recruit teachers, but now they're doing it more aggressively.

The district is looking to fill between 1,000 and 1,200 teaching positions in so-called 'critical shortage' areas.

"Science, math, bilingual, special education teachers being the area of focus for us and truly trying to find the best talent that we can," said Ann Best with HISD human resources.

But the district says the best may not necessarily come from Houston or Texas, so HISD recruiters are criss-crossing the country, from Florida to New York to most recently, California, to bring teaching talent to Houston classrooms.

"Every parent I've talked to since I've been here says 'Find us a quality teacher in our classroom wherever you have to look,'" said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.

Grier knows firsthand the dire situation facing California teachers. He was recruited from San Diego, where school districts are slicing budgets and laying off thousands of teachers. According to the California Department of Education, 20,000 teachers in that state will be pink slipped in coming months.

Dr. Grier says he will look there to bring some of those teachers here.

"We've gone to San Diego to recruit in the past on numerous occasions," said Dr. Grier. "That's not new. What makes this new and unusual is you've got so many pink slip teachers that don't have jobs next year."

HISD says the district wont overlook local applicants. In fact, they've launched a new incentive, where a current teacher who refers top talent could earn $1,000.

Meanwhile, Grier is proposing the district apply for a $12,000 federal grant to open five new magnet schools. Grier wants to make Jones High, Fondren Middle, Garden Oaks, Dodson and Whidby Elementary schools into magnet schools. Students from across the city will be able to apply to attend the schools, though those who live near in the neighborhoods would be given priority.

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