Stiff Competition at Annual Visalia Teacher Recruitment Fair

March 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
State budget problems are hitting hardest in schools, and teachers all over the Valley are on notice that they could lose their jobs.Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified didn't give out any pink slips for teachers, but Central Unified sent them to 125 employees.

In the North Valley, Madera Unified pink-slipped 190 employees, Merced sent them to 72 employees, and 16 Atwater teachers got pink slips.

And down in the South Valley, Porterville gave out 45 pink slips, 21 Pixley employees got them, and Visalia Unified gave out 71.

More than 500 unemployed teachers showed up looking to get a foot in the door and find work. In that crowd was one unemployed Dinuba teacher whose family is now counting on him to put food on the table.

Christopher Seitz is a social science teacher looking for a job in this turbulent economy. "It's not a very good environment to get hired," he said.

Last year Seitz sat in this very hall, the Visalia Convention center, interviewing for work at schools in either Kings or Tulare counties but could not find work.

Seitz has relied on his wife's teaching salary to pay the bills but now, finding a job is more important than ever.

Seitz: "In fact, my wife just got pinked slipped."

Seitz's wife is not alone. Pink slips are popping up all over the Valley.

One week ago in the North Valley the Atwater school district announced 16 slips were targeted for full time teaching jobs.

In the South Valley, Pixley Unified announced more than a third of their teachers would be laid off.

"That's brought about by the economy and the everything going bad with the budget this year," said Jeanne Nava.

Nava with the Tulare County Office of Education said more candidates are traveling from out of state this year and all around California seeking employment.

"We do fortunately have quite a few districts that are still looking for teachers here, hence there's probably 500 plus teachers in this room right now," said Nava.

Which almost doubles last year's attendance.

Even people looking for secondary income like pastor Dan Schwan from Lemon Cove.

Schwan said this job fair is an opportunity to network. "Most of the jobs are picked not so much on qualification but on chemistry anyway so your connections count for that," he said.

Job organizers said graduates looking for teaching jobs will have the most trouble right now because of the lack of experience.

The teaching jobs most in demand are positions in special education.

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