DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Public Schools is looking to recruit more teachers and other staff members after the district experienced an increase in resignations from last year to this year, according to school officials.
Right now, district officials said there are 400 vacancies within Durham Public Schools, that includes teachers, bus drivers and custodians, among other positions.
“We have seen an increase in turnover in employees, from last year to this year,” Chip Sudderth said, the chief communications officer for Durham Public Schools.
Sudderth said that DPS, as well as other school districts across the state, are seeing a trend in terms of people looking for other opportunities outside school districts.
“So we’re having to look harder to ensure that as openings come up, we are continuing to recruit more,” Sudderth said.
He also said about 280 of the 400 job openings within DPS are teacher positions. They are particularly searching for math and science teachers, as well as educators who specialize in teaching exceptional children. In addition, they are looking for staff members for after-school programs.
The shortage in teachers has impacted the current faculty and staff within DPS, including Paige Holt, who is a science teacher at Jordan High School in southwest Durham.
“In our science department, which is about 10 people, we ended the year with four vacancies — unfilled vacancies — and we’re still trying to fill some positions,” Holt said.
Holt said she has never seen this many teachers resign since she started working in DPS five years ago.
“Especially mid-year, people leaving during the school year,” Holt said. “Everything from the pandemic, all stresses of teaching and not having enough money, all of those things just sort of led to lots of people either moving to other districts or just leaving the profession entirely.”
Holt said in the science department at Jordan High School, they did not have enough teachers for all the classes, so she and other teachers had to put together virtual classes. She said this meant that some students essentially had to take courses online while sitting at school with a substitute teacher.
“We sort of split up the responsibilities,” Holt said. “It’s a tough spot to be in, giving the students an education that’s not the best it could be or not what they really deserve.”
Sudderth said that the school district is hoping that the four-percent teacher pay increase in the state budget that Gov. Roy Cooper (D) recently signed will help the district to recruit and retain more teachers.
In addition, he said Durham Commissioners recently approved a supplement for teachers and a salary increase for non-teaching employees. He said they are also hoping that will help the district to recruit and retain more employees.
Additionally, he said DPS is also including a signing bonus for math teachers, as he said they are in great need of them in particular.
“We’re pulling out all of the stops because our schools are great, and our students are even better, and we want people to be a part of our community,” Sudderth said.
As for Holt, she thinks the pay increase is a step in the right direction.
However, with inflation and housing costs on the rise, she’s not sure if the raise is enough.
She said that she also has thought about leaving.
“It’s definitely something that has crossed my mind on really stressful days,” Holt said. “But I think I am committed to being in education as long as it’s something that’s feasible to do so.”
To apply for a position at Durham Public Schools, click here.