Back to School 2022: Columbus County Schools looks to combat staffing shortages, inflation

Back to School 2022: Columbus County Schools looks to combat staffing shortages, inflation
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:34 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Students are back in Columbus County Schools for what parents and teachers hope is a full year of in-person learning.

As the school year nears the end of its first week, Superintendent Dr. Deanne Meadows says the district is focused on making up for lost learning. Meadows says test scores and grades show the pandemic had an impact on student success.

“If they were in a 5th grade class, they may not have, necessarily, gotten through all the fifth grade standards because they were having to still teach some of the 4th grade standards,” said Meadows. “So, you know, that learning loss that occurred has caused deficits, and we’re trying to backfill those deficits that have occurred because of that.”

To help students catch up, however, the district needs teachers. Meadows says her team has had to be inventive to hire faculty during a nationwide shortage of educators.

“We have had to, obviously, fill positions with teachers that aren’t certified yet,” said Meadows. “They are going through the alternative licensing program, which they are learning as they’re teaching in the classroom, which is not necessarily what you want to happen but we need to have adults in the classrooms with the students.”

The district also wants to make sure students are ready to learn the minute they get into the classroom, which means ensuring each student has what they need to succeed.

To help ease the burden caused by rising prices, the district chose not to send out school supply lists this year.

“We felt like we could take those lists, purchase those items ourselves, and then provide those for the students,” said Meadows. “We’re going to monitor that along the way. We have budgeted for it, but, you know, if we need to adjust during the year, we’ll make some adjustments to make sure that we continue to have the supplies that are necessary for the teachers.”

Even after two years of challenges brought by the pandemic, the district is still working to overcome various challenges.