FAYETTEVILLE — Even as the new year begins, school officials are still trying to fill vacant teaching positions.
One option is to offer incentives to attract certified teachers. Another quick option is to take what you can get.
Cumberland Countyhas dozens of vacancies. The big reason is low pay. School leaders are now looking at alternative ways to attract and keep instructors.
Even though Cheryl Durden does not have a teaching certificate, she is teaching the subject she studied in college.
"I was always thinking about getting into the field, but I thought it would be farther down the road. The shortage worked to my advantage," Durden said.
Durden and 120 other instructors in Cumberland County have given school officials a commitment to obtain their teaching certificates within five years.
"We are having to look at new ways to get teachers certified and highly skilled teachers working with students," said Assistant Superintendent Gene Hales.
The lateral entry program is just one way to fill the vacancies.
There are 450 new teachers in Cumberland this year, and 50 slots are still empty.
Cumberland is relying on retired teachers and substitutes to fill the holes.
At the same time, they are asking the business community to supplement new teachers' $25,000 salaries.
School leaders would like local businesses to come together to offer an incentive package to recruit and retain teachers in this competitive environment.
"We recognize we need to do special things to recruit teachers that will give us an edge in marketing our community," said businessman Harry Whalen.
Cumberland County is already working on recruiting college students who are graduating this December.
Officials are also talking with colleges to get lists of education students who still have not accepted jobs.