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'Any vacancy is a loss for our children' | CMS facing staffing vacancies heading into new school year

Advocates are calling for more funding at the state level to attract, retain and properly compensate qualified teachers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Heading into the start of the 2021-22 academic year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported hundreds of vacancies in teaching staff and other student-facing positions.

According to data from the CMS jobs website, the school district still needed to fill 123 teaching positions the day before the start of the school year. When other instructional and student-facing positions such as guidance counselors, literacy facilitators and other instructors that focus on academic recovery were included, CMS had 333 positions vacant.

“We need to have a qualified professional in every seat and we will begin the school year without that,” said Jennifer De La Jara, a CMS board member at large. “Our students deserve better.”

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At a news conference Sunday hosted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, advocates called for more funding at the state level to attract, retain and properly compensate qualified teachers.

“Any vacancy is a loss for our children,” said Amanda Thompson-Rice, the president of CMAE. “Classrooms have to be compiled together. So, therefore, a classroom of 24 might become a classroom of 35.”

Prior to the pandemic, data revealed there were 45 open teaching positions in the days leading up to the first day of school.

CMS chief human resources officer Christine Pejot acknowledged this year represents a significant increase.

“We are seeing higher numbers than we have in the past and certainly the pandemic is a cause of that,” Pejot said.

Although there is an increase over previous years, the teacher vacancies still average out to less than one per school in CMS.

There are some schools with as many as four vacancies, Pejot said. That average does not take into account the vacancies in the other student and academic support positions.

Contact Tanya Mendis at tmendis@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

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