A new school year typically heralds change and with that, plenty to discuss. Which is why last week, Dr. Tim Markley, New Hanover County School District’s superintendent, made appearances at Ashley, Gregory and Laney Schools to host Q&A sessions with parents. Markley also addressed the implications of state cuts to public education head on. The superintendent is urging educators and parents to start viewing public education like a competitive business.
Markley cites a number of key challenges for the district this school year. They include increased vouchers for private schools, a new grading system to measure public schools, changes to student reading standards, vast reductions in teachers’ assistants, and less state funding for facility upgrades. He tells parents that contacting county commissioners could help secure more funding to accommodate the schools’ swelling populations, but says he remains worried about retaining teachers--especially those in the first six years of their careers.
"If you look at zero to six, that pay scale doesn’t change, because of the way they’ve frozen pay for the last six years. So I’m really concerned they’re gonna get discouraged and look for something else. I’m really also concerned that folks who’d maybe be looking at teaching as a career are gonna say, 'If this is the pay scale, then I need to be doing something else.' And as I get folks who retire off, then that pool of qualified teachers is gonna be harder to find."
Markley does note that New Hanover County offers relatively competitive salary supplements, and that local schools have the unique advantage of attracting educators who want to be near the beach.