District looking for teachers

GLENDALE — Despite laying off 66 teachers this year, the Glendale Unified School District has been advertising for vacant special education teachers and aide positions.

The ads, posted June 28 and renewed last month on Internet job sites, are for an elementary and high school special education teacher with starting salaries of between $42,450 to $76,280, depending on education and experience. Both positions come with a $150 monthly stipend.

Special education is among the most costly divisions of public education, as state and federal law requires school districts to provide a free, appropriate education to all students. Districts must be equipped for students who need constant supervision by multiple certificated adults, and others who are prescribed modified instructional plans at a traditional school environment.

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said the vacant positions must get filled to help the district comply with education law.

"We're looking for new teachers because they are a specialized credential," he said. "It shouldn't shock anyone because there's a statewide shortage of special education teachers."

In May, school board members approved a plan to increase kindergarten through third-grade class sizes to save $15 million through 2013. A subsequent budget in June laid off 66 teachers, and district officials continue to project a multimillion-dollar deficit.

Laid-off teachers have the first shot at filling vacant positions, but the district can turn elsewhere when there are no appropriate credentials in that applicant pool.

Representatives of the Glendale Teachers Assn. were unaware the district had posted the job vacancies, union President Tami Carlson said.

"If they're hiring, it's because there's a need for that position," she said.

Some teachers have accused the district of misplaced priorities, renewing costly programs and using restricted funds to buy real estate rather than free up other funds to rehire the 66 laid-off teachers.

But "in this case, they have to have teachers," Carlson said.

Credentials for special education teachers require more time and experience, officials said. They typically re-enroll in classes throughout their career as disability diagnosis, treatment and pedagogy evolves.

All of it contributes to a constant demand for special education teachers in Glendale and elsewhere, Sheehan said.

"Special education teachers are required to have much more for their credentials, especially when you start dealing with high-school-age students, because … they have to have competency in a subject matter, plus all the additional schooling on working with kids with special needs," he said.

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