'It kind of makes you wonder': NC teachers boldly recruited by school systems in other states

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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NC teachers being boldly recruited by school systems in other states. Richmond, Virginia Public Schools puts up billboard in Raleigh.

A billboard near New Bern Ave. on I-440 in Raleigh advertises up to $10,000 in incentives if you work for Richmond Public Schools.

The billboard's the only one in North Carolina, with others in Virginia, the Richmond metro area and one in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater area on Interstate 64, according to the school district.

"It was one of the larger metro areas close to Richmond, not too far to relocate," the school district said about the Triangle.

Richmond Public Schools is experiencing 100 teacher vacancies, less than what the Wake County Public School System is in need of, according to the latest update on Aug. 12 that recorded at least 400 vacant positions.

"We have hired additional teachers since that date," WCPSS said, adding they're still in a good place regarding staffing.

For special education teacher Courtney Smith, the billboard that went up at the beginning of August raised questions.

"It kind of makes you wonder, are things better there?" Smith said. "And you look into it, but you don't want to leave what you know. You don't want leave your friends and family behind, even if something's better."

Smith said in a classroom with 10 special needs students, she feels lucky to have extra support, but the state's effort to recruit and retain teachers could be better.

"I'm really lucky that I have a substitute that I've known for a couple of years now, who's wonderful, but that general support, getting instructional assistants in here, getting that support in classrooms, that's one way to aid retention," Smith said, adding how bonuses are great, but not enough with her current salary.

"By the time I pay rent ... my phone bill, car payment, insurance, you know, things that I have to have to live, it's really tough some months," Smith said.

NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly echoed Smith.

"Legislatively, we haven't seen a lot of effort from our elected officials to retain and recruit educators," Walker Kelly said. "We have seen that burden shift to local school districts who have been offering signing bonuses, who have been offering retention bonuses to our returning educators, but that is not a sustainable model."

Virginia's advertising not only on billboards, but on radio, Walker Kelly said.

"And many of our colleagues have left to even teach in South Carolina," Walker Kelly said. "And so we know that the fix to educator pay and the long sustaining issues with public education all lead back to the General Assembly."

Walker Kelly said the state's losing its best and brightest out to other states across the nation.

"It's important to know that our legislators have the power to reinstate some of the things that made North Carolina attractive," Walker Kelly said. "Restore master's pay, restoring longevity pay, also fully restoring programs that retain and recruited teachers, like the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program."

Richmond Public Schools said the Raleigh billboard will come down soon and there have been teachers from the area apply.