Teacher shortage leaves Pittsboro students without instructor, parents worried

Posted October 6, 2015 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2015 6:28 p.m. EDT

— A shortage of public school teachers across the Triangle has left one fifth grade classroom in Chatham County without a steady instructor, and many parents worried.

The first day at Perry Harrison Elementary in Pittsboro was six weeks ago, but there is still no teacher for Krista Millard's son.

"He really wants a teacher," she said.

Millard said her son's class has had at least five different substitutes since August. Along with subs, other teachers and the principal have stepped in to assist.

Millard, along with other parents, are worried their students are going to soon fall behind.

"They are being given worksheets and busy work instead of being in groups and being hands-on," said Leslie Matthews.

According to Chatham County officials, the school district is working to fill several vacancies, but they are having trouble finding qualified candidates.

"To have a qualified teacher is far more important than just having a warm body," said Lisa Carlin with Chatham County schools.

Many school districts across the state are dealing with similar shortages. Despite recent boosts, teacher pay in North Carolina is still among the lowest in the country. To attract more qualified candidates, Carlin says this school year Chatham County increased its supplemental pay for teachers.

"Our county commissioners and board recognize that it was a real retention tool," she said.

The board also suggested parents write to lawmakers to encourage long-term, state improvements for teachers. Parents have said they will, but they want a more immediate solution.

"We need the teacher here right now," Millard said.