QUINCY -- Quincy Public Schools is ahead of its hiring pace from a year ago.
Personnel Director Lisa Otten told the Human Relations Committee on Wednesday that the district has hired seven teachers for the coming school year -- or seven ahead of last year at this time.
QPS "overhired" by 10 for the 2019-2020 year before any positions were available and intend to do the same again this year. "If we reach 10 and have great candidates still coming, we might revisit that and overhire by 15," Otten said.
"We started hiring last year right around this time for the 19-20 school year," Otten said. "This year we started in August for the 20-21 school year."
The earlier start gives QPS a better chance at hiring the best-qualified candidates, well before they finish their education or, in some cases, well before their student teaching.
"We are actively seeking qualified teachers for positions prior to positions opening and prior to any other schools getting their hands on the candidates," Otten said.
Otten, Teacher Mentor Project Coordinator Marilyn Smith and Special Education Director Eryn Beswick recently met with students at Culver-Stockton College to offer mock interviews, real interviews, answer questions and talk about QPS.
"We wanted to be a resource for these students," Otten said. "More than ever we are the ones having to go after students, get our names out here and form that relationship early. Up until the past couple years, (we) probably never had to do that, but we're trying to look at how we can create interest in unique ways."
Plans call for meeting with students at Quincy University and Hannibal-LaGrange University -- and even tapping into existing QPS staff to connect with the colleges and universities where they graduated.
"That face-to-face initial contact with an alumni of a college or university really can go a long way in trying to get us in to where we want to go," School Board and committee member Jim Whitfield said.
QPS also uses its competency-based education waiver as another tool for hiring staff members. The state waiver allows the district to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree who are interested in going back to school to get an education degree.
"We hired three last year and hired 11 more this year," Otten said. "We're thrilled with the staff members we put into positions."
A new dashboard, highlighted at the committee, will help QPS track its full-time equivalent numbers over time. As of Nov. 6, the district had 1,071.26 FTEs, but that number constantly changes.
"The intent of this is to pull a snapshot once or twice a year, where did FTEs change," Otten said. "We know we can add a little bit more (information), but we can start here and see if it's useful in a way to the board or to us."