NC Educators Look For Ways to Improve Technology & Meet Growing Job Needs
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are starting the new school year following a legislative session that cut hundreds of millions of dollars in public schools spending. The school system's new superintendent has spent the past 5 months getting to know the district, and spoke at the Winston-Salem Chamber's Tech Council gathering this week.
Dozens of business leaders and education officials from Forsyth County gathered at Atkins High School Wednesday to talk about ways to better prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Atkins is a magnet school that draws students who are highly interested in studying technology driven fields.
The North Carolina STEM Scorecard says by 2018, there will be over 1.4 million job vacancies based on new job creation and positions opened because of retirement.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory says the district is looking at several ways to improve technology in the classroom.
"In the community sessions that we have been doing this summer, there have been a lot of themes, technology being one at the top. There have been discussions about how we increase the variety of devices that kids are exposed to, but the other theme that has been emerging is support for our teachers,” says Emory.
"Teacher morale is also something that has been discussed at some of the listening sessions," says Emory.
According to the National Education Association, North Carolina ranks 46 in the country for teacher salaries. The General Assembly’s $21 billion state spending plan for this year doesn’t offer any raises for teachers. However, lawmakers did approve a measure to create a fund that will reward high performing teachers.
The budget provisions also include a $260 million cut in overall public education spending this year, and another $222 million next year.
Emory says in anticipation of the funding cuts for teachers and teacher assistants, the school board has been trying to find ways to support those positions.
"Even though the state isn’t funding us for some of those positions, we will be using our own fund balance to find those jobs, so you won’t see those reductions this year. At least that gives us time to tell people you have a year to find another job. It also gives us a year to look for other ways to offset the job cuts,” says Emory.
Emory says who and exactly how many people will lose their jobs hasn’t been determined.
In the meantime, she says North Carolina will soon find out if its high school graduation rate is improving. The NC Department of Public Instruction is expected to release the results Thursday afternoon.