West Mecklenburg High still needs five classroom teachers in the third week of school, the most vacancies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The district is still seeking 80 teachers as the third week of school begins, up from 62 at this time last year, officials told the school board Tuesday. That’s less than 1 percent of a workforce of more than 9,000 teachers, and only 16 of 168 schools had more than one teacher vacancy.
West Meck still needs two science teachers and one each in special education, physical education and career-technology education, according to a tally released Wednesday.
North Mecklenburg High and Marie G. Davis Military/Leadership Academy, a K-12 magnet school, are each short four teachers. Garinger and Vance high schools, Southwest Middle School and Turning Point Academy, an alternative school, have three teacher vacancies each.
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Middle and high school math and science classrooms have long been among the hardest to staff, along with specialties such as special education, foreign language and career-tech.
This year, however, CMS lists 18 elementary school classrooms lacking teachers, something retired teacher and school board Chair Mary McCray called “unheard of.”
It’s difficult to say what is stalling teacher recruitment, though speculation abounds. The state legislature has yet to pass a budget, creating uncertainty about salaries and staffing. CMS teacher assistants in grades K-2 have been told they’re guaranteed jobs through only Sept. 18, the state’s latest self-imposed deadline, and the potential loss of that help could discourage applicants, Superintendent Ann Clark told the board.
The state also launched new screening exams for teachers, and the math portion is reportedly more difficult, she said.
And enrollment is growing in CMS and Charlotte-area charter schools, driving up demand for teachers.