Cumberland hunts for teachers as school approaches
Posted July 21
Fayetteville, N.C. — In about a month, traditional calendar students will jam the hallways of Cumberland County schools. Whether there will be enough teachers there to greet them remains a question.
Superintendent Frank Till said Monday that the district still needs to hire about 100 teachers. Not only is that figure higher than in years past, many of the vacancies are among special education teachers, and he said there simply aren't enough qualified teachers in that field to go around.
"What's hurt us in our own filling the spots is states are recruiting our veteran teachers out of our schools. So, I've had schools lose as many as six teachers to as far away as Georgia, where people come in and recruit," Till said.
Although state and local school officials cannot give an exact number for how many teachers have left North Carolina for higher-paying jobs in other states, Till said that attendance at teacher job fairs in North Carolina has been down by 60 percent this year, and the number of other states recruiting at those job fairs has gone up.
North Carolina lawmakers continue to haggle over teacher pay and teaching assistants in the 2014-15 state budget. Senate leaders want to give teachers a bigger raise to move the state closer to the national average in teacher salaries, while House members don't want to sacrifice teaching assistants in early grades to pay for those raises.
"I would hope that we could get a raise because sometimes we feel very under-appreciated, and it really does have an effect on you psychologically," said Natalie Carlisle, who has worked in Cumberland County schools for 13 years and now teaches leadership skill classes at Reid Ross Classical School in Fayetteville.
Till said he will have to be creative to patch classes together while he continues to search for more teachers, adding that he might have to settle for teachers with less experience to cover some special ed classrooms.