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Despite Growth Challenges, Wake Schools Ready for New Year

Posted August 24, 2007

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— The Wake County public school system has been working hard ro overcome shortages of teachers and bus drivers and to find space in which to put thousands of new students expected to report to class next week, leaders said Friday.

Nonetheless, they said they are ready for about 100,000 students expected to show upMonday at more than 100 traditional-calendar schools.

"We will have slight overcrowding in some of our schools," Wake County Public School System Superintendent Del Burns said. "I do not believe we will have extreme overcrowding in any of our schools, but we will have to wait and see what happens next week."

Burns said more students are expected to fill classrooms this year and that making accommodations to handle the growth has been a challenge.

For the 2007-2008 school year, the district brought in 155 mobile classrooms to help with space issues and opened seven new schools.

Part of the crunch is a result of Superior Court Judge Howard Manning's ruling earlier this year that the district must have permission from parents before placing students in year-round school.

The school system wanted to convert 22 schools to a mandatory year-round schedule as part of its growth-management plan. After Manning's ruling, it sent out consent forms to more than 30,500 students' parents, and more than 2,500 opted for traditional year-round schools.

The district hired about 1,100 teachers this summer to help with the influx of students, bringing the total to about 10,100. As of Friday, there were 34 vacancies, Assistant Superintendent Maurice Boswell said, which represents less than 0.5 percent of the teaching staff.

Staffing needs are about where they have been in previous years, Burns said, and he did not think student learning would be affected.

One area coming up short, however, is transportation, officials said. About 65 driver vacancies were unfilled, and the school system was still taking applications Friday afternoon.

About 70,000 students are expected to commute to school on 870 buses. Until all positions are filled, officials said, some drivers will drive double routes.

Leaders also said they hope results due Sept. 4 from a self-imposed, $215,000, third-party audit will show how they can better operate and handle the rising student population.

By 2020, the county is expected to grow to 1.1 million people, meaning there would be an estimated 180,000 students in Wake County schools.

9 Comments

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  • Nancy Aug 26, 2007

    oh, and poohperson, the shortage of bus drivers runs year round, not just prior to each school year. So the fact that they don't actively get the word out all during the year just proves they don't know what it takes to recruit.

    Considering they have a starting salary of over $11/hr plus benefits, you would think people without an education would be happy for the jobs.....if only they knew.

  • Nancy Aug 26, 2007

    "Nancy, nothing about yout comments ever amazes me. If you finished school and wanted to teach, or decided you wanted to drive a bus next year, would you just sit on your behind and wait for them to come to you? NO... Like any other job you, you look for openings. What is advertising year round for positions that you do not currently have open going to do?? You act like Wake County should hire a head hunter, then you would complain about the expense."

    poohperson - when there is an annual shortage of bus drivers, how many people do you think KNOW to look on the WCPPS web site? Seriously? Convince me that works.

  • NCTeacher Aug 25, 2007

    Nancy- they DO seek out teachers. I don't know about other vacancies- but they recruit teachers HEAVILY. I graduated from ECU in 2006 in Middle Grades Math and Science Education. I went to several jobfairs (more than 1 sponsored by ECU) and WCPSS was at every single one passing out information, setting up interviews and even signing contracts with a few. It isn't that they don't try to LOOK for teachers- there is a huge shortage of people willing to teach.

    And yes- people are expected to find the jobs. People seek jobs for a reason- because jobs don't seek them.

    I wound up not working in Wake County, but the county I do work in had a turnover rate of 23% in new teachers last year. That was just counting new teachers (ones who only lasted a year), not ones who taught for several years and then decided to get out.

  • Harrison Bergeron Aug 25, 2007

    But without enough bus drivers, how will they ever fulfill their plans of social engineering?

  • William Tell Aug 25, 2007

    Since they have never really done their jobs to the satisfaction of the parents in the past, why would we think they are ready this year

  • poohperson2000 Aug 25, 2007

    Nancy, nothing about yout comments ever amazes me. If you finished school and wanted to teach, or decided you wanted to drive a bus next year, would you just sit on your behind and wait for them to come to you? NO... Like any other job you, you look for openings. What is advertising year round for positions that you do not currently have open going to do?? You act like Wake County should hire a head hunter, then you would complain about the expense.

  • Nancy Aug 24, 2007

    It never ceases to amaze me that they don't continually seek out teachers and drivers through regular methods, such as ads placed in all local papers.

    They don't do it and they never have and seem surprised they come up short constantly.

    I guess people are expected to "find" the jobs by going to WCPPS website and dig through all that nonsense?

    Not going to happen.

  • wizard633 Aug 24, 2007

    Wake County is getting too populated. It is time to close the gates on growth before all of their resources are used up.

  • mlmt4 Aug 24, 2007

    I have 155 students next year and I'm ready to go!