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NC has over 11,000 vacancies in public schools, a statewide survey finds

Allison Shelley for Ame

11,297. That's the number of teacher and staff vacancies superintendents from 98 of 115 school districts reported they had to the North Carolina School Superintendents Association when it surveyed its members this month.

Superintendents who responded reported unfilled positions for 3,619 K-12 teachers; 1,342 bus drivers; 850 special education teachers; 354 counselors, social workers and psychologists; 70 assistant principals; 698 central office employees, and more than 4,362 other support staff.

Jason deBruyn

In addition to those vacancies, school districts reported another 3,618 certified positions that are filled for the fall, but will be staffed with someone who is not fully licensed to teach in the state of North Carolina.

All of those numbers are an undercount because 17 school districts did not respond to the survey. However, NCSSA’s Executive Director Jack Hoke says that all of the largest school districts in the state did respond. The data was collected Friday, Aug. 19.

Jason deBruyn

“I think the teacher pipeline is shrinking yearly,” Hoke added. “As a state, we need to figure out how to increase the number of students entering the teacher education programs at our colleges and universities.”

Enrollment at public teaching colleges in North Carolina has plummeted since 2010 and teachers have been leaving at higher rates during the pandemic due to many factors.

The superintendents’ association has collected comparable vacancy data two years in a row and received the same number of responses both years, with all of the largest school districts represented.

“The number of vacancies is certainly trending up based on the vacancy data that we saw in 2021 and 2022,” Hoke said.

The survey found 2,040 more vacancies this August compared to last school year, when many districts were also dealing with staff shortages during the pandemic. Vacancies rose in every category — elementary, middle, and high school teachers, counselors, bus drivers and support staff.

The association’s survey may be the most comprehensive and recent count of North Carolina public school vacancies that exists.

The Department of Public Instruction collects public school vacancy data statewide on the 1st and 40th days of schools, and releases that information more than one year later in its annual State of the Teaching Profession report. Past data in those reports is not directly comparable to NCSSA’s survey because it includes data from all districts.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
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