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Some NC school districts struggling to recruit teachers

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With just weeks before school starts back up, some classrooms around the Triangle still don't have teachers.

A spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools said the teacher shortage isn't about any one school or district, but is a statewide issue.

The school system has hired 56 teachers in the past two and a half weeks; and at last check, the district still had more than 70 job openings.

In Durham, the school district has 69.5 vacancies. In 2013, the district had 280 teachers resign. In 2014, that number rose to 308.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro spokesman Jeff Nash said part of the reason for the shortage of teachers is that resignations are up about 20 percent and many are coming in later than normal as teachers wait to secure new jobs before announcing they're leaving.

"It used to be that if you were resigning, you would make an announcement perhaps in April or May, finish out the school year, [and] then you would go to your new situation," Nash explained. "But a lot of teachers, if you're leaving for another teaching job somewhere else, you're probably not announcing that until you're sure you got the job.

"So, we've been getting a rush of resignations, even here in July, which puts us up against the clock."

Nash said North Carolina colleges and universities are also not producing enough graduates to fill the vacancies in all 115 school districts. So schools are turning to out-of-state recruiting.

But Nash said recruiting is harder than it used to be.

"Now, we're 46th in the country," Nash pointed out. "In some sense, some would say we're a laughing stock in the country because of all the things that have gone on inside the Beltline, where legislators are trying to take away tenure from teachers, trying to take away teacher assistants, salaries haven't been increased in 6 years until now."

The state House and Senate have signed off on a new budget plan that calls for pay raises for public school teachers averaging about 7 percent. The plan also spends nearly $42 million to reduce class sizes in kindergarten to 18 children per teacher and to 17 students per teacher in first grade, an increase of 760 positions.

Gov. Pat McCrory said he plans to sign the new budget.

Still Nash said recruiting teachers "becomes very difficult when we're at a college fair and we're sitting next to a school district from Maryland or Virginia who's offering a young teacher who has college loans a $15,000 increase in salary above what we're offering."

Nash said CHCCS has set aside money for signing bonuses for hard-to-fill positions such as math, science and special education, and he said that's working well.

He said he is confident that all classrooms will have a teacher by the time schools starts on Aug. 25.


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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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