Oct 23, 2023 - Education

Money for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ teacher shortage solution is running dry

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools education guest teachers educators CMS

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools likely won’t have the cash next year to pay more than 500 long-term subs who are helping fill the teacher shortage.

Zoom in: CMS is short more than 500 teachers. The number is only going up nationally since COVID-19. Professionals are leaving the field for various reasons, from uncompetitive pay and long hours to the political climate.

  • The Mecklenburg County school system is hiring guest teachers to fill in the gaps. These long-term subs are assigned to one school for the entire year.
  • The program is paid for with $22.3 million in pandemic relief funding that will no longer be available next school year.

Why it matters: Guest teachers have become a valuable resource for schools as they grapple with teacher shortages. Right now CMS is unsure how it would continue funding the program.

Catch up quick: The guest teacher program started in 2021 in 42 high-needs schools. Within a few months, it expanded to almost all 184 district schools.

  • District leaders are now trying to figure out how it will manage once the funding expires. They’re attempting to address the loss while planning for the next budget, the school system’s CFO wrote to Axios.

What she’s saying: Emily Iten is a guest teacher at Croft Community School. She has seven years of experience as a second-grade teacher, most recently at Ballantyne Elementary last school year.

But, she admits, she was burnt out. Instead of leaving education, she decided to pursue her master’s to become an ESL teacher and was hired as a guest teacher for CMS. Without as much grading, lesson planning and staying after school, she has more time to work toward her degree.

  • “This guest teacher position has been awesome. It’s made me love teaching again, because … I’m gonna be honest, it was very hard for a while,” she says. “I am excited to come to work every day.”
  • It’s a win-win scenario for CMS. The district was able to retain a teacher who would have left, and they could gain an ESL teacher if she chooses to stay in Charlotte-Mecklenburg post-degree.

Yes, but: Not all guest teachers are as experienced. Some parents are concerned their students are regularly learning from non-certified staff, especially in complex subjects. CMS has some of its highest vacancy rates in math and science.

  • Guest teachers with a current or expired teaching license make $4,118.40 per month. Non-certified guest teachers make $3,432 per month. Subs make $146 or $125 a day.
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