BRADENTON -- Compared with this time last year, Manatee County School District officials say they're doing much better at hiring teachers and staff in time for the first day of school.
Nearly 48,000 students will report to district schools Aug. 24, and district staff will be on hand to welcome them all after officials made some changes to software and the hiring timeline.
"We posted early. We were out early hiring folks. I do believe we're not going to be faced with some of the situations we had last year with hiring late and having subs and so forth," said Cynthia Saunders, deputy superintendent of instruction. "We feel very confident that our schools are prepared and ready to welcome the students on the 24th."
As of Wednesday afternoon, the district website
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listed 184 job openings, including 85 instructional positions, 87 non-instructional positions, one substitute and 11 administrators. About half the instructional positions are for elementary school and half are for middle or high schools, Saunders said.
This year, the district launched Taleo, a new online hiring system, to help eliminate some persistent problems from previous years. So far, the system is working pretty well, said Deputy Superintendent of Operations Don Hall.
"It's not necessarily perfect by any means. We have been able to make a lot of positive strides," Hall said.
The district employs about 6,150 people, Superintendent Diana Green said. About 4,500 employees work directly in schools.
Three weeks before school started last year, the district was trying to fill more than 150 positions, including more than 100 instructional slots. When the 2014-15 school year began, the district had to hire an additional 28 teachers to meet the state class size amendment.
After the state-mandated 10-day school population count this year, it's likely the district will need to hire a few more teachers to keep class sizes in compliance, Manatee County School Board member Charlie Kennedy said. During a board meeting Tuesday, Kennedy asked staff if improvements had been made between the time someone filled out an application and the time someone started in a classroom, which proved to be a big challenge in the past for the district.
"It's not as short as we want it to be," Hall said, but it is shorter than last year.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.