CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders say they encourage school administrators to recruit teachers on social media, and the district is doing whatever is needed to attract more educators.

That includes signing bonuses and an international search for talent.

Hiring and keeping teachers in the classroom has been challenging for CMS leaders this year. So, district leaders are paying more money to attract educators.

They’re paying out $10,000 for student teachers who finish requirements with CMS and then accept positions in the district. Additionally, a teacher can get $7,500 to complete teaching requirements outside of the district and get a CMS job.

“We’ve already issued a number of guaranteed contracts for our student teachers who will be starting, actually already started earlier this month,” said Christine Pejot, chief human resource officer for CMS. “And also, for the upcoming school year in August.”

Admittedly the district can’t shrink the open position number below 200. There are currently 219 open positions, which has ballooned to 240 at one point during this school year.

Between October and January 11, the district hired 185 people. However, in that same period, 200 teachers left the system. On top of that, 45 to 50 more applications to leave are pending.

“We have a little over 1,525; it was specifically 1,527 pulled earlier this week,” added Pejot. “So, we are doing well. Our guest teacher program is thriving.”

Money isn’t the only thing leaders hope to bring in teachers. Improved safety has been a focus, as well. To date, two weapons have been found on CMS campuses this year. That is down 18 weapons from the same time in 2022.

That means administrators spend less time filling out police reports and more time teaching.

There’s also the question of filling the top spot at CMS.

“I am focused, like I said, on the day-to-day operations,” said interim superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill. “I will do what I’ve done for the last 25 years, and that is showing up to be the very best I can in the role that I am in.”

Hill told a group of students to look at her position like a substitute teacher when asked what changes she would make. She is not changing the game plan halfway through the year, and when it comes to applying for the top spot, Hill would only say, “I’ll answer the question as I answer for my children, ‘We’ll see.”

CMS will hold 40 job recruitment events in the next 80 days. One of those events includes a trip to Jamaica to recruit international candidates.