Kennewick teacher job fair planned Nov. 9

The Kennewick School District is following the lead from a neighboring district when it comes to locking in future teachers.

The district will have a teacher job fair Nov. 9 at its administrative offices. Substitute and student teachers may attend to learn about positions that will be open for the 2016-17 school year.

Kennewick’s event comes just a few weeks after the Richland School District held its own job fair, where administrators hoped to lock in candidates for as many as 20 positions. That effort and those of other districts led Kennewick to schedule its own job fair.

“It’s making us have to think more competitively,” Robyn Chastain, Kennewick’s spokeswoman, told the Herald.

A statewide teacher shortage has severely limited the pool of quality teachers available to school districts. District officials and teacher advocates have given differing reasons for the shortage, from the increased need for teachers to meet all-day kindergarten and class size reduction initiatives to stagnant pay and challenging work conditions.

Kennewick has a particular reason to already seek teachers — the district will open a new elementary school and new middle school in the fall and winter of 2016. Another new elementary school will follow in 2018.

Many in the Mid-Columbia are relying heavily on educators with emergency certifications from the state to make sure classrooms are staffed this school year. Kennewick sought certificates for almost 40 emergency substitute teachers for this school year alone because many regular substitutes were hired to full-time positions throughout the region.

There are efforts to recruit new teachers who don’t hold teaching degrees, with proposed programs training them and helping them earn full credentials, but aggressive recruitment of traditionally trained and certificated teachers is also part of many district’s tactics. Along with Richland’s recent job fair, the Pasco School District has planned “candidate days” beginning this winter where those interested in jobs can learn about available positions, be interviewed and possibly be offered a job.

The job fair is from 4 to 6 p.m., and the district is accepting applications at

Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402;; Twitter: @_tybeaver