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District Working to Change Minority Disparity

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Diversity in Iowa schools is growing, but diversity among Iowa teachers is not.

A recent study shows that more than 20 percent of students in the state come from minority backgrounds.

At the same time, only two percent of teachers do.

Educators from the Cedar Rapids Community School District say they are indeed aware of the disparity.

They also say they already have a plan in place that will hopefully turn things around in the future.

Kimberly Fitten is a teacher at Jefferson High School, but she says there is much more to her role as an educator.

"Having another face that looks like yours just makes you feel comfortable, she said.

As an African American, Fitten is a minority.

Not just in terms of race but also as a teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

"A lot of kids that I came across my first year of teaching had never seen an African American teacher let alone a female teacher who's articulate, she said, and as the district continues to grow so does its minority student population.

"if you look at our history it's been increasing each year over the last seven years, said district Executive Director of Human Resources, Jill Cirivello.

Jill Cirivello says the diversity of the student population is about 26 percent while the diversity of their workforce sits at about four percent, but they are working to change that.

"We try to recruit over a larger geographical area so that we are not just advertising on our website, said Cirivello.

The district is also working with their current staff.

"Understanding these are the students walking through your door every day and here are the experiences that they have and what they are coming from, said Paul Hayes, Executive Manager for Learning Supports.

It's steps Fitten says will help create a better learning environment for students of any race.

"The world you live in. You should see that reflected in the schools as well, she said.

District executives say finding qualified teachers is challenging.

They say it's led them to attend jobs fairs out of state.

In fact, they plan to attend a fair in St. Louis in the next few weeks
 
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