Cary, N.C. — Months into the school year, North Carolina’s largest school district is still reeling from the impacts of a worker shortage.
A Wake County teacher recently tweeted a photo of Superintendent Cathy Moore cleaning tables in a school cafeteria as an example of how dire the worker situation is.
“I’ve got an elementary school where I have an assignment one day a week. I spend the day at an elementary school and rearrange my other activities in order to support that school,” said Moore.
Employees at the school system’s central office are assisting schools in need of workers by doing several different jobs when they’re able, including substitute teaching.
“We value and know that, the work our central services staff – that are not in schools – do is important, but we also know that our core business is teaching and learning,” said Moore.
“We’re telling folks that. you know, don’t go home and do your work at 10 o’clock at night that you didn’t get done during the day. Some things will go by the wayside [and] some things might be late but our schools need us and this is really a way to build community,” added Moore.
For board members, it’s not an ideal situation.
“We are seeing staff leaving, and we need to recognize that. Without staff and people in the building, we can’t continue to operate our schools safely,” said school board member Lindsay Mahaffey.
“I’m extraordinarily concerned that we need a sense of urgency to support our staff members from every pay scale for every single member of our staff that are working so hard to keep our children safe in school,” said school board member Christine Kushner.
The board plans to look at scenarios involving the use of anticipated COVID-19 relief money to for raises.
“People are doing a lot more and we’re not really compensating and our salaries have been really stagnant for a long time,” said school board member Jim Martin.
Moore said she appreciates the sacrifice employees are making to ensure schools can continue to function.
“It’s really part of a bigger effort where we’re asking folks at central services to re-look at their work schedules for the week so that we can provide direct support in our schools,” she said.
Wake school leaders anticipate around $400 million in virus-related relief money.