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Teachers on the ‘front lines’ in Charlotte: We’re exhausted.

(WMC Action News 5)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Some Charlotte educators say they’re exhausted and unable to find time to plan lessons, prepare for class and grade students’ work.

Staffing shortages across the board, from bus drivers to custodians to teachers, are exacerbating the problem, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators is calling on the community to take notice.

More than 20 people rallied Tuesday evening in front of the Government Center before the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board meeting to “shed light on the current conditions in CMS schools,” according to CMAE leaders who organized the event.

“If it is not addressed, we will face higher COVID-19 numbers in schools, more staffing shortages, and lack of support for our students and their outcomes,” CMAE President Amanda Thompson-Rice said. “We know that our community values education. We want them to hear from educators and allies on the front lines so they know what we need and how to support us.”

Thompson-Rice and others want more funding and more pressure placed on state leaders. for education.

Across North Carolina and throughout the country, schools face staff shortages along with increased stress while teachers lead classrooms marked by pandemic interruptions and concern over how students will catch up.

In CMS, 500 teachers have resigned since August, with another 91 set to resign by December.

Earlier this month, district officials said there were 83 unfilled teacher positions.

“Staff tasked to cover vacancies and absences find themselves in situations where they are unable to do the basic necessities of the day, like eating or using the restroom,” CMS teacher Rae LeGrone said. “Staff are getting sick from exhaustion, and that creates more absences. It’s a vicious cycle.”

CMS ADDRESSING SHORTAGES

Staff shortages, including substitute teachers, have been a problem since school began in August.

CMS has addressed the issues through increases in pay and new initiatives.

Last Friday, the district’s Human Resources department announced the expansion of the Guest Teacher Program and a new instructional substitute performance bonus to help attract more workers.

The Guest Teacher initiative was expanded district-wide to provide at least one guest teacher allocation for every school in the district.

Additional allocations will be distributed based on a number of factors, including vacancy and substitute fill rates.

CMS also created a higher pay rate for certified Guest Teachers at $180 per day. The noncertified Guest Teacher rate remains at $150 per day.

All guest teaching positions will receive full benefits, and the positions are considered temporary and funded through June 2023.

Also, from Nov. 1 through June, daily substitutes will earn a bonus for completing a minimum number of assignments each month, the district announced.

Daily substitutes who work between five and nine assignments each month will receive a $200 bonus, and those who work 10 or more assignments each month will receive a $500 bonus.

“This bonus program is designed to incentivize and recognize our valuable substitutes for their important work and to encourage them to take on additional assignments,” district officials said.

CMS has also raised the starting wage for bus drivers from $15.75 an hour to $17.75 to help the district become more competitive. Districts across the state and nation are experiencing a bus driver shortage.

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