Wake schools: Most teaching positions staffed for back to school

Posted August 21, 2015 3:09 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2015 5:48 p.m. EDT

— More than 158,000 children on traditional calendars are heading back to school Monday, and Wake County Public School System officials say they are ready and in better shape than in previous years.

Raushawna Price, senior director of recruiting and retention, says the district is entering the new school year with 10,033 teachers, 697 of whom are new to Wake County.

One hundred vacancies still need to be filled, but a greater percentage of teaching jobs will be filled on Day One than in previous years. School officials said that is likely due to starting teacher salaries becoming more competitive.

"We start with substitutes. Or, our principals are really resilient at figuring out the best way to optimize staffing to make sure that every student has a qualified teacher in their room," Price said. "We don’t call it a teacher shortage. We have applicants and qualified candidates."

The system is fully staffed with bus drivers and has 830 drivers for 825 routes with 50 substitutes on hand. One reason is due to consolidated routes, school officials said.

Meanwhile, as state lawmakers continue to haggle over the budget, the jobs of thousands of teacher assistants in kindergarten and first grade classrooms hang in the balance.

Wake schools leaders say they're optimistic. They are still training teacher assistants and expect 2,200 of the assistants to be in the classroom on Monday.

Lawmakers hope to finish work on a $21.7 billion budget by Aug. 31, when a temporary spending measure runs out. Top leaders told their budget negotiators Thursday to be prepared to work over the weekend in an effort to have a spending plan to vote on sometime next week. However, it’s still possible a final deal could be more than a week away.