RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For the full month of March, North Carolina teachers have the opportunity to tell state school officials how they feel about their workplace.

Superintendent Mark Johnson launched the bi-annual NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey on Thursday afternoon. The anonymous survey includes questions about classroom issues including safety.

Johnson said talk of armed teachers in classrooms has been a hot topic in the two weeks since the deadly shootings of 17 students and teachers at a Florida high school.

“When I was a teacher (at West Charlotte High School), I felt that having a firearm in my classroom would have been something I would not have been comfortable with, given all of the responsibilities I had as a teacher for my students,” Johnson said.

“I’ve had a lot of teachers respond that they agree, and I’ve had teachers respond that they have concealed-carry permits, and they would actually like the opportunity to have that. That is a discussion that we are going to have in Raleigh over the summer.”

The superintendent said he also wants to be proactive by talking about things such as mental health and having more school nurses, counselors, and resource officers. Johnson said he wants to get to the heart of problems early.

He said individual districts should decide how to address peaceful protests such as student walk outs. Johnson advised administrators to make it very clear to students early on as to what potential penalties they might face.

“It is my personal opinion that students should not sacrifice instructional time to have these protests. I do believe they have other opportunities to do these peaceful protests outside of instructional time,” he said.

“There actually are many protests that have happened before today and are planned to happen after today that don’t take away from instructional time. I would encourage students to focus on those opportunities as opposed to losing instructional time.”

Wake County Public School System’s Interim Superintendent, Del Burns, said instructional time and support tend to be the biggest issue identified by teacher in the working condition surveys.

“We want to make conditions as optimal as possible for all teachers,” Burns said.

“The survey is a very powerful tool. We’ve been fortunate in North Carolina to have been able to use it for a number of years so we have historical data that gives us information. It’s a way that teachers can share, thoughtfully, the conditions under which they work in the building.”

The last time North Carolina had a survey like this, 84 percent of teachers participated. Kentucky leads the nation with 92 percent participation, and Superintendent Johnson said he wants to beat that. Schools with 100 percent participation can win prizes of $500 or $1,000.

Surveys must be submitted by March 31.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON: