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North Carolina Faces Potential Teacher Shortage

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RALEIGH — North Carolina is facing a potential shortage of teachers for two reasons: the need for colleges and universities to recruit more majors to fields such as math and science and the number of experienced teachers leaving the profession.

Belinda Best was recently named Conn Elementary School's Teacher of the Year. She says she plans to stay put in the classroom, which is a rare commodity.

"The hugs, the notes, the pictures, all of those things, I don't think there is another profession where you can get that on a regular basis," she says.

Every school district in North Carolina is trying to get certified teachers, but there are not enough to go around. The state needs 24,000 teachers by 2003.

Wake County will need 2,020 teachers to handle growth and the teachers who retire. The problem is that most teachers currently in Wake County will choose to leave within the next two years. Wake County expects to replace 3,080 teachers by 2003. Colleges and universities expect to graduate 9,000 education majors but only 6,000 of them will take a job.

"We started the school year with 100 vacancies. We had a difficult time filling those vacancies and finding the personnel we were seeking in order to fill those slots," says Bill McNeal, superintendent of Wake County Schools.

Wake County is asking for more money to recruit teachers, but officials say schools with small local supplements may not receive enough funds to be able to attract teachers.


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