Local News

Wake Hopes S.C. Town Can Teach How to Keep Teachers

Posted April 27, 2008 10:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2008 6:20 a.m. EDT

— Wake County school board members traveled 300 miles to Clinton, S.C., to examine a program that offers incentives to keep teachers in the profession.

Wake hires about 1,000 new teachers each year to fill gaps created by both growth and resignations.

The school system's needs will only increase as a quarter of its teachers become eligible to retire over the next few years – creating a potential crisis, school board members said.

"We've got to be able to keep the best teachers in the classroom," school board member Eleanor Goettee said.

School officials looked at Clinton's Teacher Advancement Program as one model that might be able to help achieve that goal.

"This is a teaching program whose purpose is to restructure. It's really to revitalize the teaching profession," Goettee said.

Performance pay and more position options are fundamentals of Clinton's program. One such position is that of master teacher; those spend some time in the classroom but also mentor and manage other teachers.

"We see a huge increase in teacher retention, because teachers are getting support by meeting in weekly cluster meetings," Goettee said. "They're sharing best practices; they're getting support from these master teachers."

Wake could become the first school system in North Carolina to implement a program such as Clinton's. The cost would be between $400 and $500 per student each, school board members said.

"To be realistic, we know the funds are really an issue and always will be," Goettee said. "We would not be asking necessarily for additional funds from the community. This is to re-purpose how we are currently using funds."

A major benefit of the program would be keeping younger teachers in the classroom, Goettee said.

Several Wake schools have expressed interest in participating in the program if the school board decides to move forward with it.