DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the teacher shortage facing the nation continues, Durham Public Schools is making progress on closing the job vacancy rate for the district. The school district held its fall job fair at Hillside High School.
Over the past year Executive Director of Talent Acquisition, Michelle Haye's position was created to focus on recruiting teachers and other staffers. She played a major role in filling district vacancies.
"We're bringing more people in," said Hayes. "13 schools will be here this evening. Then we have departments such as transportation, our custodial department and school nutrition."
According to Durham Public Schools, last year the school district had 249 open positions, which was a nine percent vacancy rate. Currently, it has 87 openings, which is a three percent vacancy rate.
The DPS Schools Superintendent Pascal Mubenga just celebrated seven years of leading the district and calls the teacher vacancy crisis challenging. He told ABC11 the district was forced to pull teachers out of their planning periods, bring retirees back on staff and invest in teachers assistants.
"We have a good partnership with NCCU," said Dr. Mubenga. "We're paying tuition for teachers assistants to go get more credentials so they can come back and teach.
The superintendent believes what makes DPS unique and attractive for candidates is the compensation, diversity and inclusive environment.
"We are really excited. We're not done yet. Will feel really good when we have zero vacancies," he said.
As more district job fairs work to close the vacancy gap, staffers believe it will help the district educate the whole child.
"Give people the opportunity to come out to the school and apply for positions even if they haven't thought about teaching, but they love working with students," said Hayes.