During the next 10 years, Elkin City Schools will have 19 people in positions with the school system will reach retirement eligibility with 30 years of service.
Allison Moxley, director of human resources for the school system, made the presentation on where Elkin stands on personnel and trends the state is seeing in students going on to study in teaching programs at universities. Her PowerPoint began with a chart showing the number and type of positions at each school with three eligible in 2016, four in 2019 and 12 in 2026.
“One of the things this chart does for us is shows us where we need to be looking down the road for teachers,” said Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe. So as recruiters for the school system visit teaching programs at Appalachian State University or Winston-Salem State University or other schools, they know which areas of focus they’ll be looking to fill.
Moxley said Elkin has the lowest teacher turnover rate for staff of any of the area school systems. But she said turnover rate can be misleading, because if a teacher moves into a position in the media center, that counts as turnover because they aren’t in a classroom anymore. The same is for when a teacher leaves a classroom to become an administrator, she said.
“Elkin is ranked No. 2 out of 115 school systems in the state as being the second lowest for teacher turnover, and the second highest in teacher retention,” Moxley reported.
Bledsoe said a high ranking for retention is a trend Elkin has been able to keep up for the past five to seven years.
One of the big concerns administrators have is the lack of college-level students entering teaching programs in the state. Moxley reported a 30 percent drop in enrollment in University of North Carolina system schools of education since 2010. While UNC-Wilmington saw a slight increase in students in combined bachelor’s and master’s program in education for 3.5 percent from 2010 to 2015, the largest enrollment drop was at Winston-Salem State where it decreased by 66.9 percent.
She shared a video put together by Public Schools First called North Carolina’s Teacher Pipeline. In the video it is reported that according to a report from the UNC System North Carolina needs at least 10,000 new teachers. “Of great concern is the severe shortage of math and science teachers and middle school teachers for all subjects,” noted the video.
“North Carolina is 42nd in place out of 50 states in how much we pay teachers, making it fairly unlikely we’ll recruit teachers from other states,” the video reported. “Now out of state recruitment has dried up along with our homegrown supply of teachers, even as school enrollment grows.
“This year, North Carolina legislators gave a two-percent increase only to beginning teachers while the rest got a $750 one-time-only bonus,” it continued.
The video can be viewed in its entirety through a link at the Public Schools First website, publicschoolsfirstnc.org.
One college senior in the presentation was quoted as saying, “Teaching in North Carolina right now is not worth it, unless you can imagine doing anything other than teaching.”
Some of the reasons for the lower teaching program enrollment given included loss of financial benefit for gaining a master’s degree in education and the elimination of the former Teaching Fellows program.
One other concern Bledsoe shared was charter schools only have to have 50 percent of their staff licensed, where the public school systems have to have 100 percent licensed.
The state’s teaching programs have begun recruiting by visiting high schools and community colleges, as well as focusing on mid-career professionals and undecided college majors, according to Alisa Chapman, director of academic and university programs for the UNC system.
Moxley then highlighted the ways Elkin recruits its teachers including visits to App State, Winston-Salem State, the Northwest Region Career Fair in Davie County and the annual BizFest in Surry County, which will be held in Elkin April 7.
In a poll of what other area school systems are doing to boost recruitment, she said Surry County Schools is offering signing bonuses for select areas of study as well as recruiting out of state; Yadkin County Schools also is following the same efforts as Surry; Stokes County Schools has shifted to digital recruitment with younger generations relying on social media to share their resumes; and Wilkes County Schools have expanded career fairs to a number of area colleges with teaching programs and creating a video commercial on the school system.
Other suggestions she had for ways Elkin can increase its recruiting in the future included help with finding housing for teachers moving, signing bonuses for hard to fill positions, increase the number of student teachers, offering lateral entry opportunities and starting to recruit high school seniors to enter the teaching programs and come back home to teach.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.