The Bulloch County Schools will hold an employee recruitment fair, believed to be the first in the school system’s history, Saturday, Feb. 24, for all positions in the more than 1,500-employee system.
Sallie Zetterower Elementary School, at 1200 Cawana Road, Statesboro, is the location for the 9 a.m. to noon job fair, where all 15 schools, special education, school food services, custodial services and school bus transportation will be represented.
The Board of Education and Superintendent Charles Wilson this week discussed the fair as part of an effort to increase the pool of applicants and improve the diversity of those getting hired for teaching and leadership jobs. But it also addresses some immediate needs for personnel such as bus drivers.
“We are recruiting to all populations of employee groups, not just teachers, not just our classified staff, our transportation, our custodials, our parapros, our substitutes,” new Assistant Human Resources Director Alli Baxter told the school board. “We’re looking to recruit for all employee groups here in Bulloch County Schools.”
Wilson will provide a general information session “about what makes Bulloch County Schools so wonderful, and why should individuals want to come and work for Bulloch County Schools,” three times during the event, at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30, Baxter said.
Then participants can visit the tables representing the schools and support services areas. Wilson said he wants the schools to “bring their A team” in the knowledge that they will be representing the district and also competing with one another to some extent.
Baxter, who started in the new assistant H.R. director job Dec. 1, has been working with the school system’s Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Hayley Greene to plan and publicize the job fair.
In addition to a calendar listing in the newspaper, local radio spots and notices on multiple social media platforms, the recruitment fair is being advertised through 30-second spots on Savannah television stations. Churches, the Concerned Clergy of Bulloch County and black-owned businesses were listed as places to be offered posters. Already, 100 had been placed in schools.
Other advertising and publicity efforts include the schools system’s own email blasts and automated calls to parents, emails through the Statesboro Herald’s community and customer addressing, and internet ads targeted to mobile devices and keyword searches through Advanced Media Solutions, which is affiliated with the Statesboro Herald.
Bulloch and seven surrounding counties are the main focus. “However, once those TV ads start to hit, we’re looking at 20 counties that we’ll cover,” Baxter said.
With much of this still to go, the recruitment fair notices had attracted “just under 11,000 hits on social media,” including likes, comments and shares, she said.
“This might be bigger than what we were thinking, and we’re hopeful for that,” Baxter said.
Interviewed after Thursday’s Board of Education open session, Human Resources Director Phillip Tremble supported the impression that this will be the school system’s first-ever employee recruitment fair.
“This is my 13th year, and talking with other people who’ve been here, this is the first recruitment fair that the school system has had,” Tremble said. “So we’re very excited to be kicking this off. A lot of time and effort has been put into it, and we’re looking forward to a great crowd.”
Board members related the recruitment fair back to the idea of increasing the number of minority educators in Bulloch County’s classrooms and school leadership. A minority recruitment or diversity initiative is part of the school system’s ongoing strategic plan, developed with community input. How to fulfill this goal was the subject of several board discussions the first half of 2017, with no formal agreement on how to move forward.
District 3 board member Steve Hein praised the job fair as an outstanding effort by staff and said he wants it to produce results in terms of diversity.
“We’ve talked about the diversity initiative, and I’m wanting to see the synergy between the two of those, if at all, and I would hope that there would be,” Hein said.
But the board, he observed, “cannot make this about minority recruiting.” He suggested that people in the community, and organizations such as churches, could make efforts in that direction.
“What we have done is what we can do, which is to be kind of passive and throw it out in a broad-spectrum way, but I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting the community from being very, very targeted,” Hein said, “and I hope there are those … who will really take this and embrace this opportunity.”
In response to questions from board members, Tremble said recruitment fair participants will be asked to sign in with contact information, including where they live and work now. But legally, the school system cannot ask job applicants or potential applicants their gender, race or ethnicity, he reiterated.
“This recruitment fair is to increase the pool,” Tremble said.
He also noted that the school system uses an online job application process.
However, Greene said that applications using this system will be taken during the fair for some support services jobs with current vacancies, such as bus drivers and food service and maintenance workers.
“They’re actually going to take applications there because they need some people right away, especially bus drivers,” Greene said.
Tremble’s title has been human resources director for all 13 years, but he originally worked under an assistant superintendent for human resources. Since Kevin Judy, who held that position, left to become Emanuel County’s school superintendent four years ago, Tremble has headed the Bulloch County Schools’ human resources department.
For those four years, Tremble had no assistant director and was the only human resources administrator. The department includes an administrative assistant, a benefits coordinator and a teacher certifications technician.
Baxter, who attained a Master of Business Administration from Northwood University, previously served as a human resources consultant for Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She and her husband, firefighter Eric Baxter, moved to Statesboro last summer when he took a job with the Statesboro Fire Department.
Recruiting is not Baxter’s only assignment. She also helps with workers’ compensation and is “great with compliance” issues, Tremble said.
“We actually work as partners, brainstorm together,” he said.
But with two administrators, the department will expand its reach to more career fairs at universities, Tremble said. In the past, he has represented the school system during events at Georgia Southern University, Savannah State University, Valdosta State University and the College of Coastal Georgia.
Now, he and Baxter will also attend a teacher recruitment event Friday at Fort Valley State University, Tremble said.
Meanwhile, the media campaign for the school system’s job fair is being funded from Greene’s regular marketing budget and not from any addition to the H.R. budget. A summary given board members shows the cost of the campaign as $5,597.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.