GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Just an hour after Superintendent Doctor Whitney Oakley shared with FOX8 why she’s asking for millions of dollars to boost teacher pay, Guilford County Schools hosted a hiring fair Where nearly 500 people pre-registered for the event.

It seems like a big number, but some administrators were not impressed with the turnout. They’re hoping this extra money comes through, so they can compete with other districts.

The principal at Southwest Guilford Middle School said he sees firsthand how pay can sway people. Dr. Robert Richmond had a former employee who now works in Forsyth County, who he tried to recruit back to GCS. When she found out she would make less money, she decided to stay where she is. 

“When districts prioritize their staff and up their supplements, up their pay, it really helps attract and not only attract but retain,” Dr. Richmond said.

Dr. Oakley is asking Guilford County commissioners for about $42 million, so she can pay her teachers and classified staff more.

“The big ask is to invest in our people and get them to competitive wages,” she said.

That ask helped draw a crowd at the district’s hiring fair Thursday afternoon.

“You need a living wage, so that definitely has something to play into it because there are a few other counties also,” said Connor Reed, who attended the event. “That’s definitely going to attract more people if they get paid higher.”

Each school throughout the district had a table set up showing a list of open positions they’re looking to fill.

GCS needs 88 teachers, 77 bus drivers and 76 maintenance workers along with more than 130 other classified staff positions.

Dr. Richmond worries about the quality of education students will get if something doesn’t change.

“I’ve got three kids in GCS myself, and those are my personal kids,” he said. “That’s not counting all of my kids at school, but they deserve the best, and it’s really getting slim, and it’s hard to get people to come in when you’ve got places that are realizing that and upping the pay.”

The hundreds who attended the event want to get into teaching to make a difference.

“I want to give back to children, especially…African American children,” said Tiffany Gomes, who’s looking for her first teaching job. “Let them know that there’s more out there than just the streets.”

“I certainly do want to be I don’t want to say compensated, but at least shown that I’m beneficial to their system and what I do day-to-day because it can be challenging,” said Monica Patterson, who came to the event.

Next up, the board of education will hold a public hearing on the budget and adopt it at their May 9 meeting. 

Dr. Oakley hopes Guilford County commissioners will approve the additional funds.