By CHRISTINA RITCHIE ROGERS
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools continues to look for teachers, even as more than 141,000 students prepare to return to school next week. Hiring hundreds of new teachers was just one of the tasks district officials faced over the summer, along with the logistics of school closures and consolidations and mobile classroom preparation. District officials met with members of the media Wednesday at Druid Hills Academy in Charlotte to give an update on the changes.
The district still needs to fill more than 100 vacant teaching positions for next year, officials said Wednesday. Once the remaining vacancies are filled, the district will have hired 500 more teachers for the 2011-12 school year than it had last year. But it won’t happen by the first day of school Aug. 25, officials said.
“We will be hiring teachers up to and after the start of the school year,” Chief Human Resources Officer Dan Habrat said, and he estimates that about 300 classrooms will not have their permanent teachers on the first day of school. About half of those positions have been filled, but only within the last month, and many of the out-of-state hires are unable to make the move quickly enough to be at school on day 1, he said. The remaining 100 to 150 positions are still vacant, but the district receives about 80 applications per day, he said.
“Selecting talent is one of the most important things we do,” Mr. Habrat said. “We will open a class without a teacher before we hire someone who’s not (of the highest professional quality).”
The district is able to hire additional teachers because it received more state and county money than anticipated, and also it cut costs for the 2011-12 year by closing schools and consolidating busing, among other things.
BUSSING AND BELL SCHEDULE SHIFTS
In January, the school board approved extending the school day for elementary students and shifting bell schedules across the district. The new bell schedules allow each bus to make multiple rounds of pick-ups and drop-offs. As a result, this year the district will be serving 3,800 more students on 159 fewer busses, Executive Director of Transportation Carol Stamper said at the meeting Wednesday.
And the district has a driver for every bus, she said, with a 98 percent retention rate from last year. The drivers transporting students to and from the newly-consolidated K-8 schools received additional training this summer, she said, so they know how to manage a bus with students in a wide age range. Those buses also will have assigned seating, with the youngest students in the front of the bus and the older students in the back.
CONSOLIDATIONS AND MOBILE CLASSROOMS
In addition to hiring and training teachers and staff, the district spent the summer moving truckloads of supplies out of closed schools and moving/repurposing mobile classroom units.
“This was the most intensive summer in 10 years,” Associate Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Guy Chamberlain said. The district closed 11 schools, and moved 80 truckloads of supplies out of those schools and into other schools and storage spaces around the district, he said.
Also, because of the state-mandated shift in the student-teacher ratio from 1:18 to 1:17, coupled with continued increase in student enrollment (up about 2,500 from last year), the district had to prepare more mobile classrooms to accommodate additional classes. The shift in ratio alone created more than 100 teacher jobs. Currently, the district has 57 mobile units ready, and is preparing 82 mothballed units. Also it is relocating 57 units.
When asked whether the staff would have done anything differently – such as keep some schools open – had they known budget cuts would be less severe, Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said no without hesitating.
The school closures save the district around $5.3 million annually, he said, and the school closures and consolidations eliminate a lot of personnel, support and overhead expenses.
“Operationally this will be savings that will be ongoing every year,” he said.
Aug. 3, 2011: “Hendrick gives $250K to help save middle school sports”
HELPFUL LINKS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL PLANNING:
Child Nutrition: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/cns/Pages/default.aspx
- Menus: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/cns/Pages/Menus.aspx
- Payment info: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/cns/Pages/PaymentInformation.aspx
- Meal prices: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/cns/Pages/MealPrices.aspx
- Participation fee: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/athletics/Pages/AthleticParticipationFee.aspx
- Schedules: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/athletics/Pages/Sports%20Offerings%20and%20Schedules.aspx
- Eligibility: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/athletics/Pages/AthleticEligibility.aspx
- Bell schedule: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/mediaroom/Documents/2011-2012%20Bell%20Schedule.pdf
- Magnet transportation: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/transportation/magnetinfo/Pages/default.aspx
- Severe weather: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/transportation/Pages/SevereWeather.aspx
- Transportation request forms: https://www.wherebus.com/everyinfo/public/cms/forms/Default.aspx
- 2011-2012 key dates: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/MagnetPrograms/Pages/2011-2012KeyDates.aspx
Coordinated School Health: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/csh/Pages/default.aspx
Curriculum and Instruction: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/Pages/default.aspx
Human Resources: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/Jobs/Pages/default.aspx
- Career opportunities: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/JOBS/Pages/CareerOpps.aspx
Student Placement: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/StudentPlacement/Pages/default.aspx
CMS Police Department: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/safety/SchoolLaw/Pages/About%20Us.aspx
Technology Services: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/CMSDEPARTMENTS/TS/Pages/default.aspx
Schools by Zones: http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsschools/Pages/SchoolsbyLC.aspx