GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — There might not be enough teachers and staff to educate and support children for the upcoming school year.
Triad school districts are in desperate need of educators, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. There are more than 1,594 jobs at school districts in the Triad that need to be filled quickly.
There are 676 total vacancies in Guilford County Schools, ranging from support staff to assistant principals and educators.
“That’s a lot. That’s a ton. I can’t believe there are so many openings,” said Mandi Mitchell, a mom of two.
She couldn’t believe it when FOX8 crews told her that there’s 55 elementary school teacher openings in Guilford county.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking honestly,” Mitchell said.
Her four-year-old will be going into kindergarten in the fall, but she’s thinking long-term. Mitchell is concerned with the shortage of math and science teachers across the state.
“So all of the STEM stuff that everyone is trying to push, and that we’re trying to get more and more into, is where it’s falling? It’s awful,” she said.
It’s a worry shared by Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras.
“We need to see more STEM [teachers] if our students are going to be ready for jobs in the future,” she explained.
Education leaders across the Piedmont Triad are all worried.
Thomasville City Schools has nine posted positions, mostly for elementary and exceptional children’s educators.
Randolph County Schools has 139 open positions, including approximately 30 teachers.
Out of the 676 Guilford County Schools vacancies, 78 jobs are for classroom support or assistance, 10 high are for school English teachers, 11 are for high school math teachers and 14 are for high school science teachers.
Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools has 379 jobs posted. 21 of them are for math teachers, 20 are for science teachers and 34 are for exceptional children teachers.
Alamance-Burlington Schools have 217 open jobs. 145 are for educators who do require a license, including 15 math teachers and 10 science teachers, and 52 are for exceptional children/behavior support educators.
Guilford County Schools officials are now trying to get creative.
“[We are] offering significant bonuses to those who are willing to…come to teaching as well as those who had success teaching across the state or who are retiring from other states, who might want to come here and…give us another 5 years,” Contreras said.
Leaders are also considering working with local universities to get some of their STEM-based faculty to work with the public school system.
“Then we have very highly credentialed science and math folks teaching our students,” Contreras said.
It’s a start, but it won’t solve the problem.
“I’m unsure in about 5 to 10 years without some sort of federal strategy or state strategy,” Contreras said.
“[Teachers] are molding the minds of the future. They’re helping all of our children learn and grow and become the future,” Mitchel saidl. “I wish more people could grasp the enormity of their role in children’s lives.”
Guilford County commissioners also recently passed a budget that allows for pay bumps for educators and staff.
The first pay increase will start in August, and the hope is that the more competitive pay will attract more teachers.
There are two virtual job fairs on Tuesday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 23 for 18 local school districts.