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Challenging Times in Education offer Opportunities for Improvement

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"Budget reductions, fewer teaching positions all around, a very competitive market in most teaching areas." Not the words new teachers want to hear after spending four plus years in college to pursue a career they have dreamed about forever. Those same words also create havoc in the human resource departments of school districts across the metro area and beyond. The significant challenges include trying to determine teaching assignments that meet the needs of all students, ensuring compliance of NCLB regulations, asking employees to take on more responsibilities for the same, or reduced salary, and adhering to contractual agreements often bring school districts beyond the point of frustration.

Although economic forecasts do not give us much hope in the near future, current events have caused human resource departments to reflect and review what priorities should be in the coming years: ensure that the best teachers and administrators are hired and retained. Interview procedures have been reviewed and revamped. Districts are becoming much more detail oriented and thorough in determining the best hires. Teacher and administrator evaluation tools are becoming a more integral part of effective instruction from the classroom to the administration's role in student achievement. Although these changes derive from stressful times and tough decisions, the outcomes will, in the long run, be beneficial.

What does all this mean for the near future of human resource departments in the education field? Simply put, we need to be creative and flexible to find the best teachers and administrators to work for presumably more hours, more stress, more responsibilities, and less pay. Budget constraints are causing constant conversations about innovative ways to keep very talented teachers and administrators. State funding can no longer be considered a guarantee in this day in age, and thus, it is a district's responsibility to ensure that with limited funds, the best personnel are found and retained. While a bit daunting, this situation provides a great motivator to think outside of the box and simply hire the best.

--Shelly Landgraf

Director of Human Resources

Boulder Valley School District

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