RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County Public School System teachers and parents expressed concerns as the school district works to fill hundreds of teacher and staff vacancies.
“It’s very scary, and I think for me, even last year when they were in the virtual academy, I had so many emails that they were short on bus drivers and so many other things. It wasn’t directly affecting us then, but them going back to the school system with this issue is of high concern,” Shavannah Moore said, a Wake County Public Schools parent, who has a young child going back to the classroom for the first time this year.
Moore also said, fortunately, her child won’t have to take a bus during the school year, but said other families are worried that WCPSS may not be able to hire more than 200 bus drivers in time. District officials said they have already cut back several bus routes.
WCPSS is also looking to fill around 400 teacher positions.
“Our resignations are up,” Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources AJ Muttillo said. “You hear about the Great Resignation out there in a lot of organizations. Our resignations are up, but we do continue to hire.”
Muttilo added even one vacancy can have a ripple effect.
Christina Spears, the President of Wake NCAE, said she has heard from teachers and said some are worried about carrying the extra weight where positions have not yet been filled.
She said some teachers have also brought up concerns about the possibility of larger classroom sizes. But Spears said a lack of pay and funding continues to impact teacher recruitment and retention.
“We have many parents right now that are having a substitute teach their child,” Jasmine Barcelona said, a literacy coach with the school district.
She said she and her coworkers started a few weeks ago and have already felt the impact. Barcelona said teachers are working double time to help make substitute plans and help with grading.
“When you’re doing it for two or three classrooms, you’re doing your job and a half,” Barcelona said.
But Barcelona also said believes the school district is working hard to help teachers.
She said school board members just approved a four percent pay raise, but more support needs to come from the state level.
“Right now, states around us are pulling from our North Carolina talent pool because they’re offering such incentives,” she said. ”Many of us are not done with work when we get home. We bring work home and work on our couches and at our kitchen tables. And my own children are saying, ‘We miss you mom,’”
After working for her school for the past ten years, she said the changes that teachers have experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t come without a challenge. Barcelona said she’s not sure when the help is coming, but something needs to change.