In response to a rash of recent retirements, the Brainerd School District is working to hire teachers.
Last year 18 teachers retired, and 22 more plan to retire this year. Assistant Superintendent Gary Phillips said the district will endure many more retirements for the next three years before the numbers begin to decline.
The main reason teachers are leaving the district is because they have met their retirement requirements, known as Rule 90. Rule 90 refers to a teacher's age and years of experience; the combined number must add up to 90 to meet retirement requirements. For example, a 55-year-old teacher must have 35 years of teaching experience to retire.
A majority of teachers retiring this year and next are from Brainerd High School and Franklin Junior High School, said Phillips. Mississippi Horizons and Washington Middle School went through this process already and now have younger staffs.
Interviews for the high school openings are in the works for the courses such as science and industrial technology. There are eight to 10 candidates each for these vacancies.
Phillips said these positions are hard to fill because there are only four or five students who graduate in the state each year with a science degree.
"These positions are very marketable," said Phillips. "A person can start out in the private industry making $40,000 a year and our starting wage is $28,000."
Other difficult positions to fill are foreign languages and special education. A special education teacher plans to leave sometime this spring, along with two other department teachers, for location reasons.
"Recruitment is more difficult than before, but we are very lucky," said Phillips. "We are a bigger district and we attract more people because we offer more opportunities compared with other schools."
Teachers have mentors to help them improve their teaching skills and are offered staff development courses in the spring and summer.
"Location is also a plus," said Phillips. "Teachers who want to pursue a master's degree have several universities close enough to attend, including St. Cloud State University and St. Thomas."
Superintendent Jerry Walseth said when a candidate applies for a position that is what he or she will teach. Some schools have a teacher instruct two or more courses.
"Brainerd is a beautiful place to live and this brings people to the area," said Phillips.
The easier courses to fill are social studies and physical education. Elementary teaching positions are also easier, said Phillips.
The elementary vacancies have been posted nationwide and school officials have already received hundreds of applications. Phillips said they will begin interviews April 17 and hope to have the positions filled by the end of that week. Phillips said they are planning to have new teachers under contract earlier than usual to get a good start.
"This is the most important thing we do and we really need to focus on hiring new teachers," said Phillips. "It's a 20- to 25-year decision and we need quality people to train. Many of the teachers we hire stay 20 or more years."
The following teachers handed in their resignations for retirement:
Janice Benson, Lowell Elementary School, effective January 2001; Sandra Bloom, Baxter Elementary School, June 2; Mary Casey, Riverside Elementary School, end of this school year; Oreen Gardinier, Garfield Elementary School, June 14; Linda Gustafson, Franklin Junior High School, June 14; Richard Harms, high school, end of school year; Judith Hartman, Baxter Elementary School, May 31; Robert Horn, high school, June 2; Elsie Husom, director of media technology, July 1; Doug Johnson, high school, end of this school year; Robert Kinzel, Franklin Junior High School, May 31; Karla Nelson, Garfield Elementary School, June 2; Marian Pelto, Baxter Elementary School, June 2; Ray Sipper, high school, Oct. 31; Margaret Thatcher, Baxter Elementary School, June 2; Duane Theilen, Franklin Junior High School, June 2; Gary Whitman, high school, June 2; and Norma Theilen, Whittier Elementary School, June 2.
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