Schools look for more diversity in hiring teachers

Despite 41.9 percent of the Oak Harbor student population identifying as an ethnicity other than white, only 7.9 percent of teachers identified as an ethnicity other than white.

The Oak Harbor school district has been working to increase the diversity of its staff, but it did not make as much progress as leaders had hoped last year.

Two years ago, the school district set new goals to increase workforce diversity to mirror the diversity of the student population.

There are about 800 staff in the school district and 5,800 students.

Increasing the number of male teachers, instructional assistants and clerical staff, and hiring more teachers who identify as an ethnicity other than white were two of the district’s goals, according to a progress report presented by Human Resources Director Kurt Schonberg to school board members on Feb. 22.

Although 2019 student population data showed 51.9 percent of students identified as male, only 23.9 percent of teachers identified as male in 2020.

The number of male teachers decreased over the past decade by 6.1 percent.

Among instructional assistants, 86.2 percent identified as female while just 13.8 percent were identified as male the same year. The widest gap between the genders was among clerical staff — all were women.

Student ethnicity numbers showed 58.1 percent identified as white, 18.4 percent as Hispanic/Latino, 12.4 percent as two or more races, 5.8 percent as Asian, 4.1 percent as Black/African-American, 0.8 percent as Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and 0.4 percent as American Indian/Alaska Native.

Despite 41.9 percent of the student population identifying as an ethnicity other than white, only 7.9 percent of teachers identified as an ethnicity other than white.

The district did not make as much progress as leaders had hoped in staff diversity during 2020.

The spring recruitment was “essentially cancelled” because of the pandemic, according to the progress report.

Falling enrollment numbers also led to fewer new teachers and other staff.

The progress report also explained that the hiring pool for paraeducators and teachers was impacted by “child care challenges, decreased hours for staff and concern for personal health and safety” last year, too.

The district didn’t recruit out of state either; however, one of the district’s strategies is to recruit more in Colorado and California in the future.

Although staff populations did not change as much, all administrator and equity team leaders received 40 hours of training, one of the goals of the school district’s affirmative action plan.

“This is about our kids,” Schonberg said. “This is about some growth and some progress and this is about really the long, long game.”

More in News

Oak Harbor man charged for brandishing pellet gun

The 21-year-old man is facing a felony charge.

Employment picture returning to normal in county

Island County unemployment is slowing returning closer to normal as pandemic restrictions ease.

Report: Tax funded 6.6 miles of road work

There are more street improvement projects on the way.

Wright’s Crossing loses 5th appeal

Wright’s Crossing’s proposed housing development south of Oak Harbor lost was blocked again.

Photo by Christina Whiting
Peter Smith-Case of Case Farm sells some veggies to some interested buyers at the opening Saturday of the Coupeville Farmers Market this past weekend.
Island’s farmers market season gets underway

The Coupeville Farmers Market opened last weekend and more markets are coming up.

Whidbey man shot to death in Whatcom County

Bellingham woman was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder.

Fire department holding commissioner elections

South Whidbey Fire/EMS seeks a new fire commissioner to fill Position 3,… Continue reading

Andy Mendoza, left, and Brandon Ezell both graduated from the Island County Drug Court program on April 8. (Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times)
Reunited with their families, two men graduate Drug Court

Mendoza, 32, and Brandon Ezell, 33, both graduated from Island County Superior Court’s adult Drug Court on April 8.

OH moving forward with 75-acre park plans

Concept designs for the park featured six soccer fields, two multi-purpose fields, four Little League fields, four softball fields, one baseball field and a building with restrooms or concessions.

Most Read