Philly district aims to hire 1,000 teachers, launches ad blitz

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The Philadelphia School District aims to recruit 1,000 new teachers for the 2017-18 school year. (Ad courtesy of the Philadelphia School District)

You may have spotted them already: radio ads, electronic billboards, and digital videos featuring smiling Philadelphia teachers with happy city kids.

“Make an impact today. Teach here,” they proclaim in spots on sports talk, oldies, and light pop stations and others, and on billboards in the city, New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania suburbs, and elsewhere.

The Philadelphia School District just rolled out a 12-week, $160,000 campaign aimed at hiring 1,000 new teachers for the 2017-18 school year — enough to replace those who retire and resign at the end of the current term, and to build a supplemental teacher corps so vacancies can be filled quickly, even after school begins.

Officials said they would focus on hiring teachers for kindergarten through third grade, secondary math and science, special education, music, and foreign languages, as well as those certified to teach bilingual Spanish classes. Those with dual certification in special ed, math, and science are also sought.

They’re also looking for nurses and counselors.

Starting salary for brand-new teachers and counselors is $45,360; nurses, $51,113.

The district has tried to move up its hiring timeline in recent years. It has historically been hurt by a hiring process that lagged other districts and charter schools. Officials want a larger pool than in the past to pull from; the district has struggled, in some recent years, to fill teacher vacancies.

This year’s hiring blitz is even earlier than last year’s, when the school system hired 1,000 teachers, said Lee Whack, a spokesman.

The district also aims to enhance outreach to recruit and hire more teachers of color.

A possible wrinkle in the district’s plan is that Philadelphia teachers have had no new contract for nearly four years and no raise for five.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has said he realizes the standoff with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers hampers the district’s competitiveness in hiring and retaining staff.

Asked to comment on how the lack of a teacher contract might affect the recruiting campaign, Whack offered a statement.

"The School District of Philadelphia has put a $150 million contract offer on the table with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers,” it said. “This offer includes raises for all members across the life of the contract.  But we must remain mindful of the funding limits we have been given by city and state funders, and those limits do not include an additional $400 million to meet what is demanded by PFT leadership.”

The district's billboards aren't be the only school-related ones around town. A city teacher was crowd-funded enough to buy ad space along I-95 to shame the school system, mayor, and School Reform Commission over the lack of a teacher contract.

Those interested in applying can do so at jobs.philasd.org, or contact the district at recruitment@philasd.org. Officials said that those who apply by March 27 could be able to interview for open jobs as early as April.