Weldon — School administrators are in a race against the clock to fill vacant positions as opening day approaches. And smaller school systems must compete with bigger ones that can offer bigger bucks.
Wake County's lowest starting salary is $3,000 higher than Halifax County's highest, but one of the county's three school systems is getting creative to attract teachers.
With a little more than a week before the start of school, Weldon City Schools Superintendent Elie Bracy III spent time going over job applications. Weldon had three openings, but hiring hasn’t always been the easiest task.
“Because of our size, we don’t have a large influx of money that’s coming in,” Bracy said.
The Weldon City Schools have a little over 1,000 students and is the third-smallest district in the state.
Bracy has some help, however. The town of Weldon is offering an incentive to any new teachers who sign on: three months of free water, garbage collection and other utilities.
“New people coming to town and young teachers and whatever, they need every little bit of help they can to get started,” said Weldon Mayor Johnny Draper.
The Halifax County School System also had challenges. It had 25 spots left to fill.
“Halifax County is one of those counties that does not have the local dollars to offer the incentives that even some of the surrounding counties can offer to new teachers,” said Selma Allen, with Halifax County schools.
Weldon and Halifax County both offer the minimum salary required for starting teachers. It’s not just about getting teachers to come to rural counties and towns; it’s also about getting them to stay.
Among Roanoke Valley schools, there was a 10 percent to 15 percent turnover rate this year for the total teacher population.
In an environment where bigger school systems offer bigger salaries, Bracy said Weldon's plan to offer new teachers a break on services gives him a bargaining point to bring to the table.