Statewide teacher shortage leaves counties scrambling for new hires

Statewide teacher shortage leaves counties scrambling for new hires
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The teacher shortage that peaked during the pandemic is back, leaving school systems in southeastern North Carolina scrambling for new hires. This is creating twice as many job openings compared to past years, and counties are struggling to fill the jobs.

This is due to low pay, burnout, and safety concerns after violence in the classrooms has increased over the past few years. Many teachers feel like they are overworked and underpaid, prompting them to look to life beyond the classroom.

Right now, Brunswick County schools have 31 teacher vacancies, the majority of those being math and science positions. Chief Communications Officer Dr. Gordon Burnette said this problem is because fewer college students want to go into teaching as a career.

“We are seeing a major decrease in college students going into educator preparatory roles. So, it really starts there. Now, we are seeing the impacts of that,” Dr. Burnette said.

However, this isn’t just a problem in Wilmington, or even in North Carolina.

“It’s a local problem. It’s a regional problem, state problem, and across the nation,” he explained.

Despite this, there are a few ways Brunswick County is luring in new teachers. The school system is increasing the pay scale in hopes of hiring new teachers and keeping ones already employed with the district.

“If substitute teachers work a total number of ten days within the months, they’ll get a 250 dollar bonus. Also, the teachers who have a planning period, if there was an outage or vacancy, they can teach during their planning period and receive an additional supplement as well,” Dr. Burnette said.

Officials in Pender County have also increased their signing bonus as a way to stay competitive with other districts and recruit new teachers.

Currently, North Carolina has around 5,000 teacher vacancies that the state is hoping to fill by the beginning of the school year in a few weeks.