[Case Study] Renton School District

Finding, hiring and retaining great teachers

 

Renton School District at a Glance:
Greece Central School

K-12 Enrollment: 15,800
Teachers & Staff: 1,970
Facilities: 25
Solutions Used:

  • Frontline Recruiting & Hiring
  • Frontline Absence & Time

The Challenge

Renton School District’s mission is for each student to graduate with options, fully prepared to participate in our democracy. Finding, hiring and retaining great teachers are the first steps toward achieving their mission of preparing students for the future.

A few years ago, the Human Resources department relied on a cumbersome paper-based system to manage their recruitment and hiring. It was heavy work, tough to keep up with and time-consuming. Because of the time it took a requisition for a position to be submitted, reviewed, signed and posted, there was a chance that potential applicants were already signing contracts with other districts before the posting even went up. Data on hiring trends was not readily available, and the staff had to request reports from the developer of their HR system to get it.

Not only that, but a teacher shortage in the area often left several positions unfilled at the beginning of each school year. Clearly, it was time for a change.

The Results

  • After implementing Frontline Recruiting & Hiring two years ago, the district has started every school year with a teacher in each classroom.
  • The number of staff required to handle the administrative side of recruiting and hiring has gone from six to three.
  • The district can easily recruit teachers from other areas, with about 50% of certificated staff coming from out-of-state.

The HR team investigated several product options, then invited principals and administrators to see presentations by the two front-runners. After engaging administrators in the selection process, the choice was clear. Frontline Recruiting & Hiring was exactly what they were looking for.

Once the selection was made, it took about six weeks to get the program up and running. By watching videos, following instructions given in each module and asking for guidance from Frontline’s client success staff, the HR team implemented their new system. It seemed pretty scary at the time, but looking back, they feel proud of their success.

Before Frontline Recruiting & Hiring was implemented two years ago, a staff of six people had been responsible for recruiting and hiring for the district. They handled the interview process, made hiring appointments, sent the hiring paperwork to candidates, helped the principals with interview set-up and took care of all the paperwork. Now, a team of three handles all of it.

“For the last two years, we have started the school year with a teacher in every classroom, which hasn’t always been the case.” — Tracy Gibbs, Recruitment and Staffing Coordinator

 

“For the last two years, we have started the school year with a teacher in every classroom, which hasn’t always been the case.” — Tracy Gibbs, Recruitment and Staffing Coordinator

 

The Solution

The HR team wanted a comprehensive system that could be used from start to finish for all their recruitment and hiring needs. Frontline Recruiting & Hiring met that need perfectly. Principals can enter a job, review the applications and record interview questions and responses in the system. When they’re ready to hire, they submit an electronic form. As soon as an employee is hired, they complete all their paperwork electronically within the system.

“We wanted to be able to go from start to finish and have it all there, and that’s what Frontline Recruiting & Hiring has: the best system by far that could take us from one end to the other.” — Tracy Gibbs

Another major advantage that appealed to the Renton HR team is that Frontline continues to grow across the country. That means that applicants in other states have access to the Frontline Recruiting & Hiring solution. They can apply anywhere from New York to California by simply uploading their application documents and transferring them to any district that uses the same system.

 Ready, set, go!

Renton’s HR team prepared for implementation by watching Frontline’s online videos and following the suggested guidelines to get their system up and running. Later, they participated in a two-day certification course to master the more advanced applications, then gradually added components to their procedures over time.

As HR prepared to launch Frontline Recruiting & Hiring, the built-in training modules saved tremendous time. Principals familiarized themselves with the system by watching relevant videos. By the time the HR staff followed up with hands-on training, principals already understood the basic functions they needed to maneuver through the system. Frontline continues to add modules, and district leaders look forward to integrating more features as they identify their needs.

 “It’s good to think of the future. HR’s an ever-changing field, and the needs of school districts are always changing. What are we going to need two years from now? Five years from now? We know that Frontline’s continuing to grow and they have other modules that we can implement down the road as our needs change. That’s a good feature, something else that stood out.” — Tracy Gibbs

Staying ahead of the competition

Renton School District has found a way to stay a few steps ahead of the competition by changing how they recruit and hire candidates.

“The speed and efficiency that we can move through the process of hiring a candidate, from posting the position to interviewing to the online hiring paperwork, is just amazing!” – Tracy Gibbs

Having Frontline Recruiting & Hiring has proven to be a huge advantage. If a principal has interviewed several strong candidates for a position and completed reference checks on each one, but can only hire one teacher, the results are all stored online. Other principals looking at applicants can access not only the reference checks but all the interview questions and responses without having to duplicate the work.

Because of the teacher shortage, the district has hired about 50% of their certificated staff from out of state. Since other districts are doing the same thing, it often comes down to how fast they can identify, interview and hire candidates.
When HR recruiters attend out-of-state recruiting events, they encourage all potential applicants to fill out a quick online form with their contact information. If they meet an outstanding candidate, an interview is done right there at the job fair. Since the interview results are stored online, recruiters can alert principals back in Renton. If a candidate looks like a great fit for a school, he or she can be hired on the spot.

Lists of candidates are sorted according to which job fair they attended, and recruiters make notes about each individual. Those with high ratings or particular interests or skills are flagged, and principals are notified. HR staff can even do reference checks on top candidates while they are still at the job fairs. The ease of getting that information to principals means administrators can just pick up the phone to connect with a prescreened candidate. If they decide to offer the candidate a position, hiring time is shortened dramatically since all of the legwork has been done in advance.

Working smarter, not harder

Implementation of the new system has transformed the hiring process. Since implementing Frontline Recruiting & Hiring, Renton has had every classroom fully staffed at the start of the school year for the past two years, and that’s a huge improvement.

  • Posting: As soon as a principal submits a job requisition, HR staff confirms budget capacity, approves the requisition and posts the opening online. Paper requests travelling from desk to desk are a thing of the past.
  • Recruiting: The minute a job is approved and posted, it automatically posts to leading K-12 job boards, such as K12JobSpot. It can also post to EdWeek and other locations, as well as the district’s Facebook page.
  • Interviewing: Questions and responses are stored online and are accessible to all administrators.
  • Hiring: Once a candidate has been selected, hiring paperwork is completed online. All departments involved are notified, and the data is immediately available to them.
  • Onboarding: All relevant documents are completed and stored online, and employee data flows into a common database for easy access.

Having all of the documents online has been one of the most valuable features of Frontline Recruiting & Hiring. Not only has the paperwork been dramatically reduced, but applicant data is easy to find. By using different reports, HR staff can check to see that candidates have the right certification, if the district is in compliance with EEOC regulations, how many positions are still open, how many have been filled and the number of candidates hired from each state. The data guides decisions on where to recruit and when. If specific data isn’t readily accessible, Frontline client success representatives are on the other end of an online chat box to help find solutions and make adjustments as needed.

Impacting student learning

“Because of the teacher shortage, we really stepped up our out-of-state recruiting. Being able to get those teachers hired so quickly through Applicant Tracking and getting them in front of the kids on day one to start the school year really impacts student learning.” – Tracy Gibbs

Thanks to the shortened interviewing and hiring process, district administrators have more time to spend as instructional leaders. If additional positions open up after the school year has started, or a teacher has to leave unexpectedly, there are already candidates in the pool who have been vetted and are ready to hire immediately. Because the HR team makes sure there are qualified teachers in every classroom, the district lives up to its motto: service, excellence, and equity.