By KRUTIK PATEL
Nine teachers were hired throughout the summer, a significant decrease from previous years. These low hiring numbers reflected the expected decline in enrollment at UHS.
These new teachers include Chris Hernandez, Brianna Smith, and Joyce Yang from the Social Science Department; Hannah Lee and Raechl Kynor from the English Department; Teresa Hutchinson and Jessica Bonifacio from the Special Ed Department; Carmen Estrada from the World Languages Department; and Christin Ibrahim from the Visual and Performing Arts Department.
The projected low enrollment and the higher actual enrollment had a large impact on the hiring of these teachers.
When creating the master schedule, the administration and counseling departments estimates the number of students projected to enroll and uses that number to determine how many sections, which is a course available during a given period, of a given course they are going to have, impacting the number of teachers that are hired.
“If I need the district to cover four or five sections… you might say that’s a teacher because a teacher teaches five periods a day,” said Assistant Principal Kris Kough. “The problem is one of the sections is like Spanish 2, one’s like Economics, one is something else – it’s not a teacher, it’s five sections all across the school.”
Kough reiterated that due to low projected enrollment, the number of sections needed to be covered was also low, and that the variety of classes added had resulted in the hiring of multiple teachers on part-time contracts. Part-time contracts allow the teacher to teach less than five periods for a corresponding fraction of a full-time teacher’s salary.
However, due to the enrollment of 120 more students than were expected, admin was able to provide the new teachers with more classes to teach, resulting in many of these teachers attaining full contracts.
“Ms. Moore and Dr. Astor called me and said ‘Hey, we have a third class, so what if we had one or two more classes for you?’ and I was on board because obviously I would love to work full time,” Kynor said.
Last year, the administration predicted a decrease in enrollment for this year, which led to many teachers leaving because either the school would not be able to provide them with jobs due to a fewer number of students attending or they would be teaching fewer classes. This departure led the administration to begin hiring new teachers under partial contracts; however, when greater numbers of students than expected enrolled during registration, they gave many of those teachers more classes to teach.
Greater enrollment numbers also impacted the interviewing process for some of these teachers. Although candidates are typically put through two rounds of interviews, due to the sudden influx of students some forwent the second interview.
For example, Ibrahim went through one round of interviewing as opposed to two simply because she was hired so late in the summer.
“I got called saying we were going to just cancel [the second interview] and then just move on… I know the Tustin schools started already so I was really stressed about finding a job, so the fact that this opened up right when I was about to give up was really nice,” Ibrahim said.
The new teachers are looking forward to working at UHS and have praised its staff and students for their dedication and enthusiasm toward the school and its environment.
“The students are really awesome, the staff is really supportive, administration is really supportive… so I think it’s a really wonderful place to work,” Yang said.