It looks like 2010-2011 is shaping up to be the year the recession really hits school districts in New Jersey. And teachers may bear the brunt of the cuts.
Schools seemed to be weathering the recession pretty well. But that was largely due to federal stimulus funds, which helped preserve jobs this year. Gov. Jon S. Corzine used $1 billion of stimulus money to fund schools for 2009-2010. Gov. Chris Christie has to either find that money somewhere else, or cut state aid. Schools have been advised to prepare for aid cuts of as much as 15 percent. Flat state aid would be a gift.
Budgets have been tight for a few years now, and school officials admit that at this point, any major cut in state aid will mean a reduction in staff. Most would hope to take that reduction through retirements, but more teachers are also opting to work through the recession, so non-tenured teachers are also at risk.
So where does that leave all those newly minted teachers graduating from college this May? Elementary school positions were already scarce last year - many districts didn't even advertise them because they had so many applicants and few jobs. New teachers may find themselves competing with terminated teachers for very few jobs.
So what's a new teacher to do? Get multiple certifications. The more a teacher can offer a district, the more likely district officials will want them. Districts want the flexibility to move teachers around, and someone who can fit in several positions has a better chance of getting, and keeping, a job.