Area schools prep for new year amid scores of teacher vacancies

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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As the first day of school nears, Wake, Durham, and Cumberland County districts are all struggling with teacher and staffing shortages.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The first day of school for Wake, Durham, and Cumberland County schools is Aug. 29.

Yet, ahead of thousands of students preparing for a new school year, all three districts are battling teacher and bus driver shortages amid a nationwide crisis facing the education industry.

"It's not by coincidence the numbers have been creeping up year after year," said Wake County parent Surena Johnson. "It's based off the conditions of teaching, the conditions of the school, and what's actually being given to the students and staff that's going to be beneficial for productivity."

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Across the country, teachers cite low salaries, COVID-19, continued disrespect from parents and students, and excessive lesson planning, among other things as reasons for leaving the classroom.

Many teachers have also turned to Amazon wishlists to garner support and donations for in-school supplies for learning not covered by the school or the district.

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Officials with Cumberland County Schools reported to ABC11 that there are 150 open certified vacancies, 176 cafeteria worker positions available, and a need for 56 bus drivers.

Job searches for Durham Public Schools show more than 200 teaching positions available and multiple bus driver vacancies.

For Wake County Public School System operations, there were more than 700 advertised teaching jobs available and a continuous recruitment push for bus drivers.

"It's not by coincidence we are short 700 teachers in Wake County," said Johnson.

Speaking of bus issues that plagued many students in the previous school year, Johnson said, "It was a troublesome year with not knowing when transportation was going to start. It was weeks on end ... to say we don't know if we're going to have transportation for your child because we don't have any drivers available in your area."

Districts are offering big incentives and sign-on bonuses for applicants who are hired as bus drivers.

"It goes to say that the school board and our elected officials aren't doing what's needed in order to serve the students and families of Wake County," Johnson said.

Wake County Public School System has yet to respond to a request for comment.