District 97 enters the upcoming school year with much more diversity within its faculty ranks than at this same point last year.

The elementary school district has made 38 new hires-34 teachers and four administrators- so far for the 2010-2011 school year. Half of those individuals are minorities. That’s a far cry from the situation in the district a year ago. Only one minority teacher-an African American-was among the 36 faculty hired last year, and only one minority was hired as an administrator, also an African American. Those numbers drew the ire of former Supt. Constance Collins, who vowed that the district would do better this year. Collins is now superintendent in northwest suburban Round Lake.

The new hires in District 97 include African Americas, as well as Asians and Hispanics. There are 12 males and seven females in the group. Of the more than 450 teachers employed in the district this past school year, blacks made up roughly 12 percent of faculty, according to personnel data for 2009-2010 school year.

Trish Carlson, District 97’s director of human resources, attributes the success this year to improved recruitment efforts, one of the charges set forth by Collins. Carlson said the district was successful at recruiting at minority job fairs. A recruitment flyer distributed by the district yielded 85 responses, Carlson said. Along with improving racial diversity, Carlson is also pleased with hiring more male teachers-they currently represent about 23 percent of the faculty.

“We’re happy about hiring more men because it’s good to have male figures in the district,” she said.

About a half dozen teaching positions still need to be filled, and Carlson expects those hires to be made before the month is out. An official staffing report is released annually by the district in October. In the last 20 years, overall minority representation among faculty has increased to 20 percent as of ’09-’10, compared to roughly 16 percent for the 1989-1990 school year.

As is tradition in the district, new teachers and assistant principals are formally introduced during the spring school board meetings. The majority of the new hires were present, sparking notices by board members who expressed delight in the diversity.

2010-’11 hires (as of June 30)

  • Total hires:

  • Total minority: 19
  • Total non-minority: 19
  • Administrative: 3 minorities and 1 non-minority
  • Teachers: 16 minorities and 18 non-minorities
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