Columbia County typically has far more teacher applicants than it has teaching jobs to fill.
That dilemma has been exacerbated through a combination of slashed funding by the state for education and an increase in class sizes.
The school system's human resources director, Anthony Wright, called the current condition an "employer's market;" lots of qualified teachers to fill a dwindling number of open positions.
However, some jobs are tougher to fill than others.
"I think there is a sufficiency right now in most general areas of teaching," said Professional Association of Georgia Educators spokesman Tim Callahan of the education job market.
"I suspect there are still shortages of ... higher level math and science (teachers), and special (education) is another area where there are often problems,"
In Columbia County, enough science teachers exist, but filling math teaching jobs might prove problematic, Wright said.
During a recent mass teacher interview at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, hundreds of educators showed up with the hope a securing a job in Columbia County. Of those, just six were math teachers. At the time, the system had seven open positions for math teachers.
Callahan said that college students with an aptitude for math or science tend to seek more profitable careers in medicine, engineering and related fields.
Gov. Sonny Perdue had once proposed offering potential math and science educators higher starting salaries to lure them into teaching, but Callahan said that proposal seems unlikely to survive the state's $1 billion revenue deficit.
But Wright isn't worried.
The school system is flush with middle school teachers, and many of them might be transferred once school registrations are set. "We have a high number of middle-grade math teachers that probably can pass through the gate and do high school math if need be," he said.
Also, he does have other applicants seeking math teaching positions, but doesn't want to offer contracts to any of them until he knows how many transfers will be needed.
Though many school systems struggle to find qualified special needs teachers, not so in Columbia County.
Wright said there seems to be an abundance of special needs teachers graduating colleges this year and many more than typical are willing to move farther away from their homes for those jobs.
"They (colleges) are still graduating these people (educators), but there just aren't a lot of opportunities for them," Wright said. "Hence, we're benefitting from that."
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