News Column

Akron hosts last-minute job fair to fill teacher shortage

August 23, 2014

By Doug Livingston, The Akron Beacon Journal

Aug. 23--Danielle Daniels sat "a little" nervous on a folding chair in the basement of 400 W. Market St., waiting her turn to interview.

"I just want to gain some experience in the classroom," said Daniels, an Ohio State University graduate on her way to a master's degree in occupational therapy from Cleveland State University, where she's taken out about $30,000 in student loans.

"I want to work in Akron Public Schools because I'm a product of Akron Public Schools," the 2006 Buchtel graduate said. "That's one of my goals: to have an influence on students in the black community as teachers have had an impact on me."

After last-minute vacancies in Akron classrooms, Daniels may get her wish.

Akron administrators held a job fair Friday seeking to fill 10 full-time teaching positions, mostly for math and science in middle and high schools, and 20 part-time positions, including tutors and classroom aides.

The surge in hiring, unusually close to the first day of school, was prompted this year as experienced teachers left classrooms to coach other teachers or fill administrative support positions.

Akron Public Schools, which employs about 1,800 full-time teachers, has replaced 100 this year and another 120 last year.

The school district also seeks to expand its pool of high-quality substitute teachers.

"Last year, we felt that we had a substitute shortage," said Recruitment Coordinator Teresa Kossuth. "So we wanted to make sure this year we had enough."

Kossuth, a 20-year principal in Akron schools, joined the recruitment office three years ago to focus on attracting talent as schools across Ohio braced to replace hundreds of aging teachers, forced into early retirement by changes to a troubled state pension fund.

Prior to the 2008 economic crisis, the State Teacher's Retirement System boasted enough funds to carry out retirement payments for more than 40 years.

A year later, Ohio passed laws tweaking the state's five pension programs. The legislation prescribed major changes for the State Teacher's Retirement System: teachers retiring after July 2013 would not see an annual cost-of-living increase for five years; health-care contributions would increase 4 percent through 2016; teachers must be 60 years old to retire by 2026; and the current eligibility requirement of 30 years of service to receive full retirement benefits will increase by one year starting in 2017, reaching a maximum of 35 years service by 2026.

The changes have teachers retiring in droves and young candidates, who have subbed and tutored for years after college, eyeing permanent positions.

"[I'm] still actively seeking full-time employment," said David Oravec, 26, a Lake High School alumnus.

A full-time teaching job would allow Oravec to take bigger bites out of his student debt, which totaled $50,000 when he graduated from the University of Akron.

"It's something I'm chipping away at, making minimum payments" he said, waiting for his next interview.

Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or


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Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

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