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Recruiting Drive Focuses on Bilingual Teachers : Education: Norwalk-La Mirada district recruiters travel widely in effort to hire more teachers to aid growing number of students with limited English ability.


NORWALK — With more than 5,000 of its 18,000 students speaking only limited English, the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District is beginning an ambitious plan to recruit bilingual teachers.

The district needs to hire at least 46 teachers by the time school opens in September, and school officials would prefer they be bilingual.

The recruiting plan began this month with a team of administrators traveling to Bakersfield, Fresno, Phoenix and several places in Texas.

More than 200 local and out-of-state colleges and universities have been contacted and asked to tell teaching candidates that the district is looking for instructors. The district has mailed advertisements to colleges and placed ads in newspapers.

The recruitment plan is the idea of Supt. Robert Aguilar, who was hired in May to run the district. With less than two months before school opens, Aguilar said it was important that an aggressive recruiting program be started immediately and he convinced the Board of Education that there was a need for a recruitment team. Only 80 of the district's 640 teachers are bilingual.

"For many years we haven't had more than one person recruiting, but we're sort of desperate now. I support this," board President William White said.

The board also approved a $37,700 recruitment budget for the 1990-91 school year. The previous year's recruitment budget was $8,500.

The team includes Aguilar, four administrators and three teachers.

Some of the recruiters were in Texas this week, stopping at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of San Antonio, Pan American University in Edinburg and Texas A&I University at Kingsville.

Aguilar said he chose the Texas area because it has been his experience as an educator that the state trains a large number of bilingual teachers.

During recruiting sessions, Aguilar said, "We will let them know that we have a nice place to work. We have the potential to be an exciting school district."

The district's pay scale is better than that of many California districts, according to Johnna Moore, administrator of personnel services. The starting salary is $25,400 a year for beginning teachers, while a teacher with more than 24 years of experience makes $49,000.

After the summer, Aguilar said the district plans to continue its aggressive effort to hire teachers. Next year, a teacher fair will be held to recruit instructors, Aguilar said.

The fair will be similar to one held last year by the Richmond Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was an associate superintendent, Aguilar said. "We interviewed more than 1,000 teachers and were able to recruit 100," he said.

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