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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Houston School District Back In NC, Looking For More Teachers

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.

  The Houston Independent School District is looking to recruit more teachers from North Carolina.

Recruiters first visited in May, where they made 12 on-the-spot offers and later hired about 8 more teachers, according to Shaleah Reed, a spokesperson from HISD.

The district is offering $49,100 as a starting salary. North Carolina’s starting salary is among the lowest in the nation at $30,800.

“You know, you want a teacher who’s motivated by the urge and desire to really change lives with classroom instruction, that’s what we’re looking for,” says Reed. “And salary, it’s like icing on the cake.”

Reed says district leaders have been following conversations in North Carolina about the stagnant, low teacher pay. The district’s superintendent, Terry Grier, is a former superintendent of Guilford County Schools.  

The Houston Independent School District is currently trying to hire critical shortage positions in fields like science, technology, math and special education.

They held a job fair in Raleigh on Wednesday and plan told two more in Greensboro and Charlotte on Thursday and Friday.  

Lawmakers have criticized Houston’s efforts, arguing that teachers shouldn't be motivated to leave North Carolina for better pay.

“Why in the world would someone from North Carolina want to go down there? If it's just salary, then they'll be back....real soon,” says Republican Senator Tom Apodaca from Hendersonville.

Lawmakers are currently negotiating a state budget that they say will offer large, competitive raises. 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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