Eastern Carolina school districts discuss teacher hiring woes

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 7:48 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Over the past few years, school leaders have struggled to attract and keep teachers. Now, as they gear up for the fall semester, administrators are hoping new strategies will help.

WITN talked to three of them Monday about what they’re doing.

“I would say that it is more difficult to find a deep pool of qualified candidates,” Frank Creech, Greene County Schools superintendent explained.

That’s the story you’ll hear from school districts across the U.S. and the state of North Carolina, and it is one that Creech knows well.

“I think some of that can be [attributed] to the difficult time teachers had working through the pandemic with remote and digital instruction. I think also, in general, the labor market has become more competitive,” Creech said.

While the challenge remains, some changes have been implemented to help.

“Last year, our school district did approve a retention bonus for teachers that provides an additional $2,000 a year,” Creech said.

He added that his school district is looking into ways to help new teachers once they start, such as helping them adjust to their new careers or new districts.

Henry Rice, Pamlico County Schools Administrative Services executive director, said his district has two open teacher positions. He also said that staying ahead of shortages has required strategy, including a $12,000 sign-on bonus.

“Our commissioners and our board also increased our teacher supplement from 8 percent to 11 percent and even up to 15 percent for those hard-to-fill areas as well,” Rice said.

However, with around 1,200 students in the district, Pamlico County Schools leaders’ reality differs from, say, Pitt County, whose entire student body is much larger. It, too, is adding incentives for talent.

“Our board has approved $2,500 for classroom teachers, and in some schools, certain positions that we found to be challenging to fill are now up to $4,000 as bonuses,” Kristi Rhone, Pitt County Schools Human Resources assistant superintendent said.

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