Teacher resignations up significantly in Wake County


The school district says people are leaving for many reasons. Some for jobs in other states. Others are getting out of the profession entirely. However, many have a common reason -- not enough pay.

Thursday's announcement came as the debate over teacher pay escalates. North Carolina teachers haven't had a pay increase in five years. They currently rank among the lowest paid in the country.

School leaders say they're seeing a 41 increase in teacher resignations over the same period last year, and teachers are being very candid about their concerns.

"I think there's a sense of hopelessness at this point," said Underwood Elementary School fifth grader teacher Kelly Nystrom. "We work very hard. We are very well educated. We deserve to be financially compensated for our time."

"Good teachers are making hard decisions to leave our classrooms for a better future somewhere else or in another line of work or in another profession," said Doug Thilman, the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. "Not in our public schools, and not in our state."

The Wake County Schools' superintendent is requesting an extra $39 million from county commissioners in next year's budget. Most of that money would support a 3.5 percent pay increase for teachers and other staff. Without one, school leaders say schools will suffer.

"It's not beating the drum to say we want more money," said NCAE Vice President Mark Jewel. "It's definitely the bigger picture here that North Carolina is sending the message that we don't value public schools."

State Republicans have proposed raising the base pay for new teachers, but boosting pay for veteran educators is unlikely.

Education advocates blame the funding issue on political posturing and tax cuts, but conservatives say the money just isn't there.

"I would challenge them to tell the General Assembly which taxes they'd like to see raised, or which part of the state budget they're going to get the money from," said Terry Stoops, with the John Locke Foundation.

While the debate over teacher pay heats up leading into the General Assembly's short session, teachers say time is running out for a solution.

"We've got to make changes now. We can't wait," said Apex High School physical education teacher Britt Morton.

The school district says it is common for teachers to leave their jobs at the end of the school year. More teachers resign in June and July, which means the spike may not have even happened yet this year.

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