The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) Human Resources (HR) Department implemented several changes to the BUSD hiring process in March, including expanding efforts to recruit teachers of color and shifting the hiring timeline to attract more qualified candidates. These changes were presented at the Board of Education meeting on February 28.
In past years, applications were made available and eligible candidates applied in March. Between May and August, two waves of group hiring took place, and candidates were notified for the next school year. This process was criticized for years for being slow and unable to meet the job security needs of applicants, who got hired by other districts before BUSD made an offer.
“Our hiring timelines don’t get a lot of attention, but they are one of the most important aspects of the District’s central office work, because we need to be competitive to get the best people in place to serve our students…” said Tyler Alper, board director. “We are very hopeful that the improvements we are making now will have tangible results this spring, allowing us to fill critical positions with talented, diverse candidates.”
One HR change is that an ambassador now attends job fairs, recruits online, and meets with school principals. These new practices aimed to help meet district goals for hiring teachers of color.
Separately, HR pledged to make faster hiring offers to qualified candidates who were vetted but not offered a position. HR is also now active in hiring staff for school sites, whereas before, they acted more as an approval board for employees recommended by school administrators. At the February 28 meeting, Assistant Superintendent Evelyn Tamondong-Bradley stated that a joint effort would create a more diverse and qualified applicant pool, as more district personnel would be searching for qualified candidates.
Another change is that HR has shortened its annual deadline for approving teacher leave, giving sites more time to find, vet, and hire substitute teachers. HR is encouraging the Berkeley Federation of Teachers to ask teachers for timely notification of potential leave.
The hiring process used to be carried out largely on paper, which made hiring slower, as it required print signatures to be mailed to various offices and back to get the proper credentialing.
Now, HR has decided to shift its communications to paperless mediums to carry out hiring processes more quickly.
BUSD is also loosening prerequisite credentials slightly. For example, if a school needs a physics teacher, and there is a qualified applicant with a biology credential, the district will hire them and allow them to get a General Education Limited Assignment Teaching Permit, so that they can train before they start to quickly gain the necessary authorization.
“I am hopeful. It seems like we have been talking about this [hiring process change] for quite a few years, but it seems to finally be happening,” said Nakia Baird, BHS Math Department Lead Teacher.