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CMS students worry about impacts of teacher shortage

The district's hiring department said it doesn’t expect to fill all its open teacher positions before the new school year, which worries some students.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — To be fully staffed, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools still needs just under 400 teachers before the school year starts. 

More than 2,100 teachers left the district last year, according to CMS human resources officials at a Tuesday night school board meeting.

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The district's hiring department said it doesn’t expect to fill all its open teacher positions before the new school year, and this worries some students. 

"I have seen some kids being dispersed into my class, and then they're just all just sitting in the back of the classroom, on their phones just bored," Moises Guerrero, an East Mecklenburg High School student said.

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Last year there were multiple reports of students without a teacher or substitute getting sent into other classrooms, or gymnasium, in a practice called dispersions. 

Guerrero said he understands why some teachers aren't returning to the district. 

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“I've seen teachers that I've been with that later have quit or if not just gone to a different state," Guerrero said. "And they previously complained about just the pay that they got from school.” 

CMS reported that 41 of their 180 schools are fully staffed. 

Teacher vacancies -- like teacher resignations -- often disproportionately affect schools that can least afford them. 

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School data shows last school year some of the highest teacher resignations came from low-income schools like Chambers High School and Garinger High School. 

"It's always a challenge when you're talking about our schools that receive supplemental title one funding," CMS Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said. 

There are incentives in place to fix this. 

"We're providing additional funds to pull teachers to those schools of $7,600 per teacher, the principals that have proven track records of success, we're providing them $18,000," Hattabaugh said.

Students are looking for consistency this year. 

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"I'm just grateful that I'm able to have teachers help -- just to help me," Guerrero said.

The district has just under three weeks to get as many teachers as possible into the classrooms. 

The teacher shortage is not unique to CMS and is happening nationwide. Compared to other districts in the area like Union County Public Schools, for example, CMS is seeing a higher number of vacancies. 

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

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