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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2001

Teacher shortage packs area job fairs

Harriet Allen of Toledo Public Schools interviews Tony Aelker during the 16th annual teacher job fair at Bowling Green State University. Harriet Allen of Toledo Public Schools interviews Tony Aelker during the 16th annual teacher job fair at Bowling Green State University.

BOWLING GREEN - As an aspiring teacher, Pete Lisi knows he's in demand.

“You feel like a piece of meat,” he said yesterday during Bowling Green State University's 16th annual teacher job fair.

The event, billed as the largest single-institution teacher job fair in the state, drew more than 500 BGSU students and alumni, most dressed in power suits and hoping to land a job in the fall.

For many like Mr. Lisi, who graduated in December, it was a chance to scan opportunities at 150 school districts from across Ohio and the nation at a time when many districts are in dire need of teachers.

“We have a huge teacher shortage in Texas,” said Judy Gamble, director of personnel for North East Independent Schools in San Antonio. “If we went to every teacher education program in the state, we probably couldn't fill all the openings.”

The suburban district of 52,000 students has 500 teaching vacancies for next year. It offers an annual starting salary of $33,000 for teachers with a bachelor's degree and no experience.

Toledo Public Schools had four recruiters at the fair looking to fill the district's 200 openings, said Richard Lovett, director of professional personnel.

The greatest needs are in special education, math, and science, he said. Some schools in cities like Cleveland have gone global in their quest to fill such vacancies.

“It's a pretty cut-throat world out there in terms of teacher recruitment,” Mr. Lovett said. The district pays teachers $29,098 to start.

Several factors, including an increase in the population, legislation mandating smaller class sizes, and a generation of Baby Boomers preparing to retire, have prompted states like California to look beyond their borders.

The state needs 11,000 teachers by September and an estimated 250,000 over the next decade, according to David Harrison, who attended the fair representing CalTeach, a state-funded agency trying to sell potential teachers on working in California.

The University of Toledo holds its teacher job fair today in Savage Hall and expects about 150 students and alumni to participate.

A weeklong series of teacher job fairs continues tomorrow at Ohio Northern University in Ada. Ohio State University and Ohio University in Athens will host fairs later this week.

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