Back to School 2022: Bladen County Schools gets creative to make up for teacher shortages

Broadcasting classes from one school to another is just one way Bladen County Schools has tried to make up for a shortage of teachers.
Updated: Sep. 2, 2022 at 6:05 AM EDT
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BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Imagine sitting in math class, ready to learn in-person on the first day of school. Your teacher, however, is on the other side of the county. Broadcasting classes from one school to another is just one way Bladen County Schools has tried to make up for a shortage of teachers.

“When we have areas of vacancies, or maybe someone has to be out for extended period, we’re looking at ways we can broadcast from one school to the other, utilize our resources there so they’ll be getting instruction from a certified teacher,” said Superintendent Dr. Jason Atkinson.

While students, teachers, and parents alike hope virtual learning is in the rear view, Atkinson says the district has used technology to its advantage when students cannot find a class they want to take.

“Using our partners with NCVPS for some online courses as needed, we’ve been using them for quite some time when we’ve had a scheduling issue for students or maybe students want to advance or maybe, potentially, students that want to recover credits that may need to, being flexible to student needs,” Atkinson said.

As the district works to get more teachers in the classroom, Atkinson says he is running into another problem: retired educators want to come back to work but are meeting several hurdles.

“One of our challenges with our retirees is that they’re only allowed to, probably, work a half a day because of retirement caps,” said Atkinson. “So, one thing we’ve been advocating on in local and one of our recent state meetings was that we need to take away the retirement cap that is on our retired teachers, and allow them to come back in and to work for us full time.”

Atkinson wants to eliminate that cap and the six-month waiting period retirees have to go through before returning to state service, all in an effort to make sure Bladen County students have access to the best education possible.