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.”