Teacher Shortage in State Reflected in Pender County, Statewide

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There has been as much as a 30% decline for students enrolling in teacher education positions since 2010 and the trend isn't getting any better. Pender County schools still have open positions that cannot seem to be filled despite some attempts at increased incentives for teaching in classrooms with behavioral disabilities. Governor McCrory and politicians in Raleigh need to step up and improve teacher pay.

Read the editorial from Star News

Alfredia Moore, the district's human resources director, said that last month the University of North Carolina System reported to the State Board of Education there had been a 30 percent decline in student enrollment in teacher education programs since 2010.

“Yes, there is a teacher shortage, not just in Pender County Schools,” she said. “It's something that's taking place across the state.”

And Beth Metcalf, Title 1 director and director of elementary student learning for the district, said changes to state requirements under its Read to Achieve legislation are made inconsistently and with little guidance from the state. Under this state law, third grade students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive special help.

The most recent changes came in February and early March, expanding the grades the district must serve during a state-mandated summer reading camp to include struggling first and second grade students.

Metcalf said to meet the change, she estimates the district will likely serve five times the number of students as last year, but funding allotted by the state to the district only barely doubled from the previous year.

As for the teacher shortage in Pender County, Moore said at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year there were still 15 vacancies. The hardest position to fill has been exceptional children teachers, those who teach students with learning or behavioral disabilities.

The board has approved extra funds in previous years to be used for teacher recruitment such as exceptional children teachers now receive a sign-on bonus and regular teachers receive 50 percent of a supplement in their first paycheck and the other half at the end of the school year.

But the board said as the teacher pool shrinks, they will need to be able to provide greater incentives in order to recruit high quality educators.

“I think it's very important that the commissioners hear this,” Chairwoman Karen Rouse said. “I know that a local supplement cannot fix this, but we at least need to be competitive or else (teachers) can just drive across that line, and who can blame them?”

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