“We have some of the best schools here, in the state and the country. We need to find ways to retain those teachers here. Part of that is teacher pay,” Matt Hughes said, a candidate for at-large Orange County commissioner.
At a forum held Monday for Orange County Board of Commissioner seats, Hughes said teachers don’t leave the Orange County school districts just because of teacher pay — lack of affordable housing also forces out teachers.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council organized a forum for District 1 and at-large Orange County Commisioner candidates.
The meeting, moderated by the president of the PTA Council, presented education and economic development questions to the seven candidates running for Orange County seats.
Community members submitted questions online prior to the forum and their questions were presented.
Jamezetta Bedford, Gary Kahn and incumbents Penny Rich and Mark Dorosin are running for the two seats open in District 1. The candidates running for the at-large seat are Andy Cagle, Matt Hughes and Mark Marcoplos.
Candidates answered questions ranging from teacher pay, school funding and affordable housing.
All of the candidates agreed that both Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools needed to find effective solutions to avoid teacher turnover. The teacher turnover rate in both the school districts is 18.5 percent.
“A lot of teachers in this county don’t feel supported,” Dorosin said, but he added that sentiment is not exclusive to Orange County. Other counties like Halifax have a turnover rate of 35 percent, Dorosin said.
All of the candidates support the idea of creating a district version of a teaching fellows program, similar to the state-funded education program that was designed to encourage more professionals to become teachers.
The teaching fellows program has not received funding from the state since 2011, effectively ending the program spring of 2015.
Rich supported this idea and proposed that UNC could help fund a district-wide teaching fellows program.
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