Milwaukee Public Schools kicks off recruitment effort

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools kicks off a two-year employee recruitment effort on Thursday. This comes in anticipation of an expected wave of teacher retirements in the coming years.

More than 1,100 of the 9,124 employees in MPS will be eligible to retire at the end of this school year, a figure that is expected to grow to 1,900 by 2015. The district has already received notice from more than 200 employees who plan to retire, though more retirements are expected as existing employee contracts expire over the next year and a half.

The first of the "baby boom" generation are eligible to retire, and this is welcome news for those looking for work, and students about to graduate.

UW-Milwaukee education students say they're feeling more optimistic about finding work after graduation, now that MPS has announced plans to replace thousands of retiring teachers. "I would actually love to stay in the district if there's opportunities," Sarah Bonilla said. 40 percent of MPS teachers come from UWM.

UWM's Dean of the School of Education says they've already emailed students and recent graduates about the MPS openings, and say the climate for teachers is improving. "It's exciting news. Some of our students were discouraged by friends or family, even over the last year or so, wondering if this was a good climate for education," Carol Colbeck said.

MPS has invested $25,000 into a recruitment campaign as a result of these retirements. "We're interested in broadening our reach and throwing out a wide net, if you will," MPS Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Karen R. Jackson said.

With budget cuts in recent years, the district has been more focused on downsizing. Most of the people laid off were the younger workers. Now, the older, more experienced teachers are expected to retire in high numbers. "We're hoping, and I know that's (Superintendent) Thornton's goal, that we don't have to lay off this year, but through attrition, even though we are downsizing, we should be able to fill positions," Jackson said.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said, "We’re grateful to our retiring employees who have provided decades of service improving the lives of our children. We’re looking to find the absolute best and brightest, the most innovative and the most dedicated staff to fill their predecessors’ shoes."

The recruitment push includes a small, targeted marketing campaign with a national reach, a revamped careers website and a recruitment video.

MPS will hold a meeting Thurdsay, March 15th from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Juneau Complex on 64th and Bluemound. UWM says its students used to attend meetings like this with MPS every year, and this is the first large meeting that's been held in at least four years.