CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District superintendent Ann Clark says there is a crisis going inside the classrooms. She is concerned about the teacher pipeline. Clark tells WBTV there are not enough people who want to become teachers for various reasons.
"We are losing our competitive edge as a state," Clark said. "We are now in a situation where we can't attract first year teachers from other states."
Educators say a starting teacher salary in North Carolina of $35,000 a year is not enticing people to go into the profession. Right now CMS has about 110 teacher vacancies, fortunately most of those spots have a recommendation for hire. But the fear is - filling future vacancies will get worse before it gets better.
"110 vacancies certainly is a lot," the superintendent said. "Of student contact that is being missed by a credentialed qualified teacher."
Alisa Chapman, UNC system Vice President for Academic and University Programs, tells WBTV last year there was a 12 percent decline in students majoring in education. She also adds in the last five years there has been a nearly 30 percent dip in education majors. UNC school provide many teachers. These numbers are impacting CMS. Currently the district has 19 long term substitutes teaching students, some are in critical areas like Math and English. The district is having a hard time filling vacancies.
Casey Jones is the principal at West Mecklenburg High School. He tells WBTV he has vacancies in Math and Science. He says to cope with the openings students are split between effective teachers.
"It does create larger class sizes," Jones said. "So what we try to do is make sure we are providing our kids with a quality education."
Jones knows filling spots will be a challenge, that's why he has already started finding teachers for next school year.
"We are being aggressive right now," Jones said. "Looking at our potential vacancies for next year to make sure we are burning the midnight oil to find the candidates, to make sure we have qualified teachers in front of our classrooms for our students."
While universities and school districts figure out ways to recruit teachers, the CMS superintendent is calling on the community to help fill the teacher pipeline.
"If people are discouraging our students in middle and high schools for thinking about becoming a teacher," Clark said. "Then we probably will not have a pipeline and we are probably not going to have a pipeline that's diverse."
CMS is now recruiting heavily in New York and Pennsylvania to find teachers to fill open positions. The school district is holding more job fairs this year to help deal with the teacher shortage. This year CMS participated in 58 career fairs. The district will hold a job fair locally, April 25 at The Park Expo to find teachers.