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Rowan-Salisbury Schools system chips away at teacher vacancies over summer break

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — As the summer rounds the halfway mark and the first day of school edges ever closer, Rowan-Salisbury Schools still has several teacher openings to fill.

According to district teacher recruiter Jeanie McDowell, the school system had 51 vacancies for classroom teachers as of July 20. The majority of those, she said, are new listings.

It’s a modest improvement over last summer, when the system began the 2016-17 school year with roughly 70 vacant positions.

School officials said it’s not uncommon for teachers to resign in June, just after the school year ends. McDowell said that was the case this year but that things are looking up.

“We are still having some resignations trickle in,” she said. “But really, right now we’re having more vacancies being filled than resignations.”

Most of the vacancies are for exceptional children teachers.

“And that really falls in line with trends across the state,” McDowell said.

There are also more math and elementary positions vacant going into the 2017-18 school year.

McDowell’s position is a relatively new one, created by the Board of Education in February 2016 in order to become more proactive about attracting educators.

Over the past year, the district has implemented other measures in an effort to address its teacher shortage — including offering signing bonuses to new teachers and increasing teacher supplements.

And district personnel like McDowell have begun seizing opportunities outside the state more often. McDowell said she recently attended a job fair in New York state, which has a saturated teacher market.

McDowell said she and other representatives of Rowan-Salisbury Schools try to focus on colleges that have large teacher education programs. That gives them the opportunity to attend a teacher-specific job fair, instead of a general one.

“It’s hard to reach those students when you’re in a room full of other businesses,” she said.

Potential candidates she has spoken to in the past year have expressed interest in the district’s one-to-one technology program, which gives a laptop or iPad to every student and teacher. But they’re also looking for a supportive environment they can call home.

“They want to have a principal that they can trust and that they can build a relationship with, and they’re looking for a school system where they can grow and develop as a teacher,” McDowell said.

Currently, 250 candidates have applied for or are in the process of applying for unfilled positions. The 2017-18 school year begins Aug. 28.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-7974264. 

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