• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Recruiting diverse workforce not easy

The Woodford County Public School District continues its recruiting efforts at all public colleges and universities in Kentucky, private institutions in the state, and in Cincinnati, Ohio, said Director of Staff/Student Services Garet Wells to the Board of Education during his annual human resources report on Sept. 18. Eighty-one prospective employees (interested in teaching and non-teaching positions) attended a job fair hosted by Woodford County schools in April, according to Wells. He said at least six of them were hired by the district. As of late August this year, Wells said the district received 2,315 applications (1,257 for certified positions). Most of the applicants for teaching and administrative positions came from individuals who identified themselves as white (1,051), with 28 applications submitted by African-Americans and nine coming from Hispanics. The number of individuals applying for certifications from the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board for the first time declined from 2,889 in 2011 to 1,713 this year, according to data that Wells said he received from the EPSB. Because a majority of those who applied for certifications were white (89.92 percent), Wells acknowledged, "It is a challenge for us" to recruit a diverse workforce. "Well," he continued, "it's a challenge for all districts, really, to recruit a diverse workforce. I feel like we do it as well as any district our size can do it as far as what we do" in terms of recruiting efforts. He noted that larger districts, such as those in Fayette and Jefferson counties, "literally fly all over the country, sometimes out of the country trying to recruit applicants." Adult education Three students in the Woodford County Adult Education program have earned their GEDs so far this year, according to Adult Education Director Tammy Bramlett. "So we're really happy about that," she said, "because we're ahead - way ahead - of the last two, three years. "We are expecting five to six more (students to earn their GEDs) before the end of December," she continued during her annual report to the Board of Education on Sept. 18. She said Adult Education has begun advertising efforts to inform residents of the community that they are eligible to apply for jobs at local manufacturers if they are working toward earning a GED. Also, onsite GED classes will be provided to employees/students in the program, she added. With the Board of Education's financial support, the Adult Education program is getting new computers that can handle an operating system for online assessments for its students, Bramlett said. Two part-time instructors are now full-time, also because of board action. In addition to these and other changes in Woodford County's Adult Education program, Bramlett told the board that Kentucky Adult Education is now Kentucky Adult Education Skills U. "And this (change)," she said, "will hopefully speak to our students who we are trying to prepare for college and careers." Preschool program Woodford County schools have 143 students enrolled in its preschool program, with 10 more anticipated to enter that program by fall break (Sept. 30 to Oct. 8), program Director Kathy Hogg told board members during her annual report last Monday. Fifty-four preschool students are enrolled at Simmons Elementary, 30 students are enrolled at both Huntertown and Northside, and 29 students are enrolled at Southside (in morning and afternoon classes) as of Sept. 12, according to data given to board members. Woodford County's four preschool programs - one in each elementary school - were all given a top rating of 5 Stars in the new Kentucky All STARS Quality Rating-System for preschool programs in the state, Hogg told board members. "That was a lot of work and a great, big accomplishment," she said. Said Board Member Sherri Springate, "We're all so, so proud to have all of those STARS in Woodford County. And the foundation that you all provide is really phenomenal." The All STARS rating that a preschool receives is based on classroom and instructional quality, staff qualifications, administrative and leadership practices, and family and community engagement. Also, two Woodford County preschool teachers (Kim Johnson and Whitney Hendry) were selected to present sessions at a statewide Early Childhood Learning Conference and another preschool teacher (Elizabeth Mays) was selected to participate in the Super Stars Leadership Academy, Hogg said. As coordinator of district programs, Hogg also gave the board an update on Community Education programs. Enrollment in the district's Explorer Time Company after-school program continues to grow with about 225 students being served every day, Hogg said. A summer ETC program was offered this year, and a new collaboration with the district's migrant program allowed their students to get directed instruction and also participate in ETC activities, she added.

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