District overcomes California’s teacher shortage by using technology to attract and retain better candidates

“We’ve gotten so much unsolicited positive feedback.”

At Del Mar Union School District in San Diego, intense competition for increasingly fewer candidates made it difficult for them — like so many other districts in California — to attract and retain qualified educators.

“A better, higher-caliber employee generally produces a higher-performing student,” said Jason E. Romero, assistant superintendent, human resources at Del Mar. Jason and other district leaders knew that they needed to attract, hire and retain better applicants to continue driving achievement among the 4,000-plus students they serve.

They found the solutions to their challenge in PeopleAdmin’s Recruit & Hire and Records.

“It’s fantastic. We’re attracting a better candidate now,” said Kia Birdsong, human resources assistant at Del Mar. “We began posting with Recruit & Hire for K-6 teaching candidates and received over 400 applications. The system really allows us to more effectively hone in on who we want to interview out of those hundreds of applicants, through the filtering mechanisms, and the ease with which HR and/or principals can very quickly access and review candidates immediately.”

She said the solutions are also helping improve retention by offering a seamless transition from new hire recruitment to onboarding and orientation. Replacing cumbersome paper-based processes with electronic solutions gives new employees a positive first impression and improves visibility and accountability for district leaders, ensuring all required new hire documents are completed on time.

“We’ve been able to set an expectation of accountability before employees even have their first day,” Kia said. “We’re also setting expectations up front with all staff who encounter or impact our students, not just teachers. This includes, special education aides, preschool instructional aides, afterschool program workers, office assistants, human resources personnel, etc. This has an overall positive impact on the entire district.”

Since going paperless, “onboarding and orientation have taken on a whole new light,” Jason said. “We spend the initial contact time during orientation getting new hires familiar with their district, their position and our processes — as opposed to just doing the menial task of checking whether forms were signed correctly.”

And new employees have noticed. “We’ve gotten so much unsolicited positive feedback about how streamlined the process is and how it’s easier to follow,” Jason said.

“I think Records saved me a person,” he added. “It really did streamline our processes, and that’s where I think the product itself is as valuable as an employee in my organization. With benefits and salary and everything associated with a starting clerk, we save $60,000 to $70,000 per year.”

Before implementing Records, Jason said, ensuring that forms and checklists were compliant was tedious. “There was hole-punching, stapling, labeling, binding and, eventually, actually filing the file. It was a multi-step process that was handled over several days as opposed to what we’re doing now, which is a completely seamless process.”

Kia also felt the frustration of dependence on paper, noting how a copier jam frequently cost an hour of her day and contributed to job dissatisfaction. She was glad to replace those tasks with the intuitive workflows in Records.

“I think I had a five-minute tutorial, and I got it. It was easy,” she said. “I felt like this was what I had been looking for. And I liked what I was doing a hundred times more because I felt like I was a professional.”

But Records does more than deliver efficiencies to the HR department; the solution also helps protect schools and students from incorrect or missing important documentation.

“Records can save you from basic human error,” Jason added. “I can’t tell you the number of times that we would look at a file and notice that we had an outdated I-9 form or someone signed the wrong form. When all of our forms are embedded through Records, we know that things are current, up-to-date and correct.”

Because of their great experiences with Recruit & Hire and Records, Jason often tells other districts about the efficiencies, fiscal savings and accuracies PeopleAdmin has helped Del Mar realize. “And I tell them at the end of the day, Recruit & Hire and Records make for a healthier, happier HR department.”

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