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SMMUSD HDQTRS — School district officials get to sort through some resumes.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials predicted they’ll be hiring more teachers for next school year, reaching staffing levels not seen in two years.

The district employs the equivalent of 412.5 full-time educators, said Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Debra Moore Washington at last week’s Board of Education meeting.

Next year, Washington is forecasting a 3.5 percent increase up to the equivalent of 427 full-timers.

“That’s going to put us in hiring mode for next year,” she said. “We are looking at going to hiring fairs this year where we haven’t had a need to do as aggressive recruitment in the past.”

Because there are still many variables, Washington’s numbers are a prediction. District officials will have more solid numbers in the coming months.

One of the reasons for the staffing increase is that the board is looking to lower class sizes at almost every grade level. In the high schools, for example, the goal for the student to teacher ratio is 35-1, down from 36-1 last year. In sixth through eighth grade, the goal is 34-1, down from 35-1 last year.

The estimated cost of the growth is $1.16 million.

Another reason for the staffing increase is that the district is using more moderate numbers in estimating enrollment. In the past, district officials used conservative numbers, projecting that there would be fewer students enrolled. The projections consistently fell short of the actual enrollment totals. This year, they hope the numbers are closer to the actual enrollment than they have been in the past. District officials are projecting a slight increase in enrollment next year.

Most schools will get a slight staffing boost, according to the predictions. At the secondary level, only Olympic High School is not expected to hire.

No schools will see a decrease in staff size. Even at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School in Malibu, where enrollment is projected to drop, staffing will stay the same.

Washington said that, among other things, they are trying to increase hiring outreach by adding liaisons at several local colleges.

Board Chair Maria Leon-Vazquez asked district officials to be proactive in their hiring plans.

“We need to create a pool of potential people who would like to work in our district,” she said. “Because that’s the only way that we can really create a diverse group of staff and teachers that are representative of our student body.”

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