The cost of hiring ineffective teachers in the Santa Barbara Unified School District is about $10,000 per person, according to Human Resources Director Margaret Christensen.

The district decided not to renew 12 teacher contracts last year and will not renew 15 this year, Christensen told the district’s board of trustees at its most recent meeting.

“We need to get better at minimizing the risk of ineffective hires,” she said.

With that in mind, board members voted to contract with TeacherMatch LLC, which tests applicants on general intelligence — math and verbal skills — as well as teaching skill and attitudes toward teaching and learning.

The test service will cost $28,420 per year, which is significantly less than the $80,000 annual cost of replacing teachers now, Christensen said.

By making applicants take the Educator’s Professional Inventory test, the district will have a more objective way to identify the best candidates, she said.

Board president Kate Parker said she was glad it was just one way to differentiate between candidates.

She said she would be interested in having high-achieving teachers take it as well, just to see how they score.

Superintendent Dave Cash has made a point of interviewing all new staff members and making prospective teachers give demonstration lessons, while his predecessor, Brian Sarvis, hired teachers without seeing a lesson.

Christensen said the hiring process had improved a lot over the past two years, but still needs to get better.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.