Virginia schools luring NC teachers with big bonus

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Some are considering their options because of low North Carolina pay. (WTVD)

Given the state of teacher pay in North Carolina, many teachers have found themselves exploring their options.

Some have admitted to considering other professions. Others have contemplated looking for teaching opportunities elsewhere. Just last week, state leaders approved a budget that would give North Carolina a pay raise - bringing teachers' annual salary to just over $50,000. The frustration is not isolated to North Carolina, though.

"I didn't realize how big this was until I got down here today," said Sandra Burks, Executive Director of Human Resources for Roanoke City Public Schools.

The Virginia district held a teacher recruitment event in Durham on Wednesday with the hopes of attracting the best and the brightest.

"I believe in North Carolina there are teachers who have had excellent training and I think will find Virginia a wonderful place to live," Burks told ABC11.

Roanoke is specifically looking for teachers who specialize in Special Education, Mathematics, Health/Physical Education, English, and Spanish/French. The school district is also offering sign-on bonuses ranging from $2,000-$10,000.

"I think if you're interested in looking at a school district that really is a making a difference with their students, and certainly I think pay plays a role as well, that it can really be something that's a good match for folks here," said Burks.

Miriam McLamb, an administrative assistant for Harnett County Schools, found herself in an interview this morning with Roanoke City Public Schools.

"My daughter called me and said, 'Mom I think this is for you,'" said McLamb. "I'm qualified for this. And so I want to get the best teaching career that I can."

McLamb and many other teachers have found themselves in the crosshairs of a teacher pay debate that is sure to go until the November election. Speaking in front of a Charlotte audience last week, state attorney general Roy Cooper told teachers across the state, "Teach right here in North Carolina. Hold on, because I'm coming."

Gov. Pat McCrory doubled down, saying North Carolina has given teachers the largest pay raises in America.

However, McLamb feels the state does not value her as an employee, and that is reflected in her salary.

"North Carolina needs to get up and wake up and see that we're worth something. And they're going to lose valuable people. And I feel valuable," she explained. "I can do a lot. I trust myself, I know who I am. I just wish they knew who everyone else was who was teaching".

While the move for McLamb may not be ideal, she is willing and open to relocating.

"I am not leaving my options to not stay in the state. But [Roanoke], they've been so good. And willing to hear me. And they see me, as from what I've seen so far, they see me as valuable. So maybe it's time for a change," McLamb shared.

Burks said her staff interviewed three people at Wednesday's event, with the other two candidates coming from South Carolina and New York. She said the low turnout is partly due to how little the event was publicized. However, she has seen interest in job applications filled out online.

Because Roanoke City schools resume session in August, Burks says all interested teachers should apply no later than the end of July.

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