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RISD awarded $30,000 to update recruitment procedures

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Teacher recruitment at the Roswell Independent School District will be getting a boost from a nearly $30,000 grant from the Public Education Department.

The RISD school board voted 5-0 to accept the $29,633 grant at Tuesday’s meeting. The funds include $4,533 for new computer equipment, $7,000 for contract services for a recruiting liaison, $15,000 for recruiting trips, $3,000 for pamphlets and other materials, and $100 for subscriptions to job websites.

The goal of the RISD team administering the grant will not be to just fill vacancies, but to change the district’s approach to recruitment, Ralph Matta, director of Human Resources, said.

“We know that our system is pretty antiquated. We do the career fairs, we use the same job postings and so on and so forth, but this new generation doesn’t necessarily use those locations or those processes in order to find jobs. We’ve got to change our processes,” he said.

Often, the first contact RISD has with teaching candidates is at college career fairs, Matta said, but most of the students attending those fairs have already made up their minds about where they want to teach.

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The district will move toward establishing relationships with students when they are juniors or even sophomores, he said.

“What we’re seeing when we go out to these recruiting fairs is these new candidates, this whole new clientele wants relationships and wants the community and that’s what we’re going to try and sell,” he said.

Establishing those early relationships could help RISD overcome some of the pitfalls it has in recruitment, such as salaries compared to neighboring states, Matta said.

Mireya Trujillo, assistant superintendent for human resources, said RISD has much to offer new teachers but with events becoming virtual because of the pandemic, it has to change its strategies from in-person career fairs.

“Some of the strongest things we have to offer in our district are the strong beginning we can give them through our mentorship program, our teacher center, our material center, our Wednesday early release,” she said.

“We have so many things we can offer candidates so it really is a strength when we can go there,” she said.

The district did experiment with virtual college events in the spring but found them to be tedious and difficult to reach students electronically. The district is looking at conducting its own virtual recruitment sessions and is also working with Handshake, a job search website and app directed at college students.

The district is also streamlining partnerships with universities to help build those early relationships, Trujillo said. Eastern New Mexico University-Portales, New Mexico State University-Las Cruces and the University of the Southwest, a private Christian university in Hobbs, all wrote letters of support for RISD’s grant application.

To sell the community, the district is partnering with the Roswell Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Administrative Director Elizabeth Morales will work with the RISD team.

“This partnership has allowed us to strengthen our outreach for stakeholders and to truly value the opportunity and the great resources we have when we bring in new teacher recruits or families and how that does impact the community,” Trujillo said.

Also working on the teacher recruitment team are Recruiting Liaison Louis Mestas; Jerry Holm, supervisor of public relations and communication; and Administrative Assistant Jessica Eldridge.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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