Local News

Teacher Shortage Looms in Wake County

Posted January 23, 2008 6:34 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2008 7:22 a.m. EST

— Wake County schools could face a new crisis. In the next few years, 25 percent of teachers in the county will be eligible to retire.

School superintendent Del Burns talked about the statistic during his mid-term report. The projection has also got others thinking, such as school board member Eleanor Goettee.

“We have a real crisis looming, I do believe," she said.

As many as 2,200 Wake County teachers could retire within the next five years.

“I really feel like I got a good deal. I enjoy what I do. I really do,” Millbrook High School teacher Diana Turner said.

Turner, has worked for the Wake County school system her entire career and is among those teachers who could retire soon. Retirement and teacher turnover have led to a hiring frenzy for some principals.

“We have hired 12 new teachers to start today – the second semester of this year,” Millbrook High School Principal Dana King said.

Goettee said a way to prevent a teacher shortage is to keep younger teachers from leaving the field.

“There are huge numbers of master teachers who want additional roles, responsibilities and, with that, reward and recognition,” she said.

Goettee, a former teacher, wants new positions created for senior teachers, such as having them mentor newer teachers.

“I think it's time to professionalize the profession. We don't need to be in lock step with the state salary schedule that pays teachers solely on experience and credentials,” Goettee said.

Goettee first raised her concerns about the potential teacher shortage last year. She said she plans to continue bringing it up during committee meetings.

It is important to note that not all teachers eligible to retire will do so. By state law, they can sit out for six months and then come back to work.