MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Some schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district are going into the new school year with the same problem facing thousands of other schools in the United States — not having enough teachers.
A week before classes are set to start CMS still has 360 open teacher positions.
Despite the teacher vacancies the district — which employs around 9,000 teachers — said 96% of classroom positions are filled.
When there’s not a teacher to cover a class the quality of education suffers, and so do the teachers who must pick up the workload.
"It's important to me that we have plans in place to be sure that we're not adding on to the stress of teachers, and that they're not having to take on a second class of 60 or 70 students in their normal block," Glenn Starnes II, Harding University High School principal, said.
Starnes said Harding University was able to staff all its classrooms.
"You still have situations that may come up, right, folk may need to be out folk might need to experience a break in a workday or change in a schedule," Starnes said.
CMS said only 50 schools have no vacancies out of the 181 total schools.
One CMS high school teacher says she has mentally and physically prepared herself for any shortages.
"Honestly, it hurts, it's not a happy song to sing at times," CMS high school teacher Raymona Green said.
She said her plan is to be aware of her fellow colleagues and step in where she can.
"If somebody needs to go to the bathroom, and I'm right around the corner or something like that, 'I'm saying look, go handle your business,'" Green said. "I'll look at your class."
The goal for every school is to have a qualified adult in every classroom.
"We've developed a practice around here that allows for us to ensure that we have some out-of-the-classroom staff members that are able to step in, in those situations, so that we are not adding yet another burden on teachers," Starnes said.
Schools need to keep morale high and teacher vacancies low for smooth sailing this school year.