Employment software levels playing field for small districts

As the economy forces school systems to slash costs and positions, human resources departments are being flooded with applications for a dwindling number of job openings. While many large school districts use sophisticated software systems to automate human resources management, smaller districts have had to make do with cumbersome paper-based systems or spreadsheets. As two Missouri districts illustrate, however, even smaller districts can take advantage of technology tools to facilitate the hiring process.

Lebanon R-III School District in Lebanon, Mo. and Smithville R-II School District in Smithville, Mo. implemented SchoolRecruiter™ to help their staff attract a larger pool of qualified candidates while decreasing the effort that goes into processing and hiring. Developed by Netchemia LLC, SchoolRecruiter is an on-demand applicant tracking and hiring management system designed for K-12 education.The Internet-based software provides a system to manage all available positions and candidate information, from recruitment and screening to interviewing and hiring. By streamlining these processes and eliminating printing and mailing costs, districts can save several thousand dollars annually.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school systems, state education agencies, technical schools and colleges have lost about 125,000 jobs since last fall. Todd Schuetz has seen this first-hand in Smithville and Lebanon.“There are fewer positions open but more people applying,” he said. “As a result, there is a higher concentration of quality applicants for each position.”

Schuetz currently serves as assistant superintendent for academic services for Smithville R-II School District, which is preparing to launch SchoolRecruiter in spring 2010. Located approximately 20 miles north of downtown Kansas City, Mo., the district enrolls 2,380 students in four schools. Before joining Smithville in fall 2009, Schuetz was assistant superintendent for personnel and school improvement for Lebanon R-III School District. The district, which enrolls nearly 4,700 students in eight schools, has implemented SchoolRecruiter since 2007.
Prior to 2007, Lebanon R-III School District used paper-based processes for recruiting and candidate management.

“The paper really slowed us down,” said Schuetz. “To sort through qualifications, we had to go through piles of paper resumes and applications, which was tedious. I am certain there were quality candidates that slipped through our fingers because they got lost in the paper shuffle.

Schuetz added that the slow pace of the paper-based system made it harder for them to compete with districts that had an electronic system.

After implementing SchoolRecruiter, Lebanon shifted from paper-based to paperless processes, which saved staff time and improved applicants’ perceptions about the hiring process. “There is no job more important than hiring your next teacher. It’s every school’s next best opportunity to get better,” said Schuetz. “SchoolRecruiter helps us do our jobs more effectively and applicants are very complimentary about how user-friendly the system is.”