Recruiting high-quality teachers, providing a rigorous education for all students and graduating students on time are the top areas the community wants the Wake County school system to focus on over the next five years.
Those three goals received the most votes Wednesday night from the more than 700 people who attended the Wake County school system’s town hall meeting at N.C. State’s McKimmon Center. Wake school leaders are looking for the public’s help to develop the district’s new strategic plan.
“Please pay those teachers and all the other staff members in schools without question,” said Todd Baulch, principal of Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina.
It was a concern shared by 84 percent of the school employees, parents and other community members who ranked teacher recruitment and retention as the top goal.
Superintendent Jim Merrill put the issue on the minds of the participants after sharing that 9.8 percent of Wake teachers who participated in this year’s N.C. Teacher Working Conditions Survey said they intend to leave the profession. He pointed out that two prior surveys were followed by Wake’s turnover rate being double the percentage of teachers who said they’d resign.
“We can only hope that some of the exodus of teachers from the profession has been slowed for the 14-15 (school term),” Merrill said.
Focus-group interviews of more than 100 people and an online survey that attracted more than 11,000 respondents identified 10 focus areas that were voted on Wednesday:
• Encouraging students to communicate and work collaboratively with all kinds of people within the global society.
• Engaging the broader community (e.g. parents, businesses, agencies) to support schools.
• Graduating students on time, college- and career-ready, and preventing dropouts.
• Maintaining safe, orderly and modern schools.
• Offering students a wide-ranging curriculum (e.g. world languages, performing and visual arts, career and technical eduction courses) and extracurricular activities (e.g. athletics and clubs).
• Promoting development of solid morals, good character, respect for others, and a strong work ethic.
• Providing an appropriate rigorous education at all academic levels.
• Providing comprehensive support services (e.g. school health, counseling, social work psychology).
• Providing current learning materials and technology for students.
• Recruiting, developing and retaining high-quality employees.
A group of community and education leaders will use Wednesday’s results to draft a strategic plan that will be presented to the school board in December. The 39-member team is co-chaired by Phil Kirk, former chairman of the State Board of Education and the North Carolina Chamber; and Marvin Connelly, the school system’s chief of staff and strategic planning.