Education is a labor-intensive industry, and our public schools provide outstanding employment opportunities for a wide range of workers.  Last year, North Carolina’s public school districts and charter schools employed approximately 183,300 full-time workers to serve over 1.5 million students. Teachers account for around 100,500 of the total.  The remaining 82,800 employees are administrators and professional and support staff, mostly teacher assistants, clerical staff, and service workers.  Part-time personnel, certain contract employees, N.C. Department of Public Instruction staff, and others who are employed to support the state’s children and families are not included in the full-time personnel counts published by the state, so the actual total likely nears 190,000.  Next time you meet a taxpayer, thank them for their contribution to this massive enterprise.

Although districts may begin recruiting teachers earlier in the year, most schools fill their job vacancies during the summer.  Ideally, state and local budgets are approved in late June or early July, allowing central office administrators and planning staff to match their anticipated personnel needs with budget allocations to schools.  In some cases, schools are forced to hire teachers after the start of the new school year.

The North Carolina Schools Job Board lists openings for most of the school districts and many charter schools in the state.  The job board lists well over 5,000 openings in public schools throughout the state.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Durham, Guilford, Wake, and 20 other school districts, along with at least 22 charter schools, maintain their own application websites.  This means that the actual number of positions available far exceeds those listed on the job board.  For example, Charlotte-Mecklenburg lists over 800 vacancies on their website.  As of Thursday, July 26, Durham had around 200 vacancies, Guilford posted over 400 vacancies, and Wake listed nearly 500 openings.

Of the positions posted on the job board, around half are for licensed personnel, a category that includes teachers, instructional coaches, counselors, psychologists, and speech pathologists.  As usual, there is a strong demand for bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teacher assistants, substitute teachers, and support staff.

Dozens of schools are looking for athletic directors and coaches for football, baseball, softball cheerleading, and other competitive sports.  Cedar Ridge High School in Orange County is on the hunt for 11 coaches, including five for the school’s track teams.  Broughton High School needs an offensive line coach for its varsity football team.  Grimsley High School in Guilford County seeks a diving coach.  Qualified field hockey coaches may apply for the vacancy at Jordan High School in Durham County.  A number of these coaches also serve as teachers, administrators, and staff in their district and receive a salary supplement for their coaching duties.  Others receive a stipend or volunteer

Some of the job vacancies require specialized training.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is hiring family/school advocates and a chief for the CMS Police Department.  Durham County Schools has vacancies for an early childhood bilingual family advocate and a distance educational facilitator.  Lincoln County Schools needs a fire fighter technology teacher and a senior naval science instructor.  Forest City-Dunbar Elementary School in Rutherford County plans to hire a “Tutor-21st Century.”

In the end, public schooling is a labor-intensive undertaking, but it is not a jobs program.  It is an enterprise designed to leverage the talents of the few to meet the goals of the many.  Those goals include advancing the constitutional mandate of providing a sound, basic education to every public school student, supplying the North Carolina economy with competent workers, and cultivating an informed citizenry.  Unfortunately, a host of social and non-academic goals often run afoul of those core functions, and in some cases, take precedence over them.