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CMS still searching for 361 teachers a month into the new school year

The same issues impacting the district’s recruiting a month ago -- pay, teacher burnout, and a shortage of qualified teachers -- still exist.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the past few weeks, there haven’t been any significant changes to the number of teacher vacancies in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

A month into the new school year, CMS confirmed it still has 361 teacher vacancies. That’s slightly down from the beginning of the school year when it was at 370 open positions. 

The number of vacancies has fluctuated in the past month, even rising closer to 400 at times. 

RELATED: CMS will start the year with 370 teacher vacancies

CMS cited planned retirements and some resignations in the first few weeks of the school year for the increase. 

Nonetheless, according to the CMS student advisor, students aren't experiencing major disruptions to learning due to the shortages. 

"The ones that I've talked to you know have not had any problems with teachers being absent or not having a teacher," CMS Student Advisor Juan Torres Munoz said. 

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With more than 140,000 students in CMS, it’s hard to know how everyone feels or is impacted by teacher shortages, but the district promised early on it would have an adult in every classroom. 

Even with more than 300 vacancies, up to 95% of classrooms are filled with permanent teachers.

“Which is something really positive because they do enjoy that they now actually get to have a teacher in the classroom, and they can learn from that," Munoz added.

The impact of teacher vacancies on students is not the same as last year's school year. At one point there was an average of around 1,000 teachers absent a day due in early January because of COVID callouts. 

RELATED: Faced with hundreds of staff shortages amid COVID surge, CMS school board meets for first time this year

The last time CMS officials talked about teacher absences, during the first week of school, they laid out a plan. 

"I would urge the public not to think so much of the vacancy number as a standalone, but there really are a lot of other factors," CMS Chief Human Relations Christine Pejot said on the first day of the school press briefing. 

One of those factors helping the vacancies is guest teachers. They're temporary funded positions that get training to be in the classroom with or without a teaching license. 

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"They're in a much better position to be able to cover and be ready for classes and students on that first day of school," Pejot said. 

Despite the front-facing optimism of teachers in the classroom, district leaders do realize the impact of not having qualified teachers in the classroom on a regular basis. 

When asked by a school board member what is impacting student achievement scores the most, CMS Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh cited a lack of qualified teachers as one issue. 

RELATED: Only 15.9% of Black and Hispanic students are considered college and career ready according to CMS

Filling teacher positions have been slow going, but the district has put a dent in the amount of bus driver vacancies. They’re down to just 26 openings up from 36 at the start of the year. In addition, they went from 154 open teaching assistant positions on Sept 2., to 123 as of Sept. 22. 

CMS is hosting a hiring fair Saturday, Sept. 24, for operational workers which includes positions like transportation, maintenance and custodial work. 

The hiring fair is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Governors’ Village STEM Academy, 7810 Neal Road, Charlotte, N.C. 28262. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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