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CMS Still Has Teachers To Hire And Mobile Classrooms To Deliver

CMS plans to add video surveillance focused on mobile classrooms like these.
Trailers at David Cox Elementary School in north Charlotte.

Mobile classrooms in place at one CMS location. Getting ready for school is always a busy time for teachers, custodians and principals. But at CMS this year there are a few curveballs--hundreds of last minute hires, mobile classrooms that haven't been delivered and new pre-k through 8 schools. Druid Hills is one of eight schools that will hold grades pre-k through 8th this school year. That's meant some major construction. A couple classrooms here have been transformed to science labs. And custodian Larry Alston has been cleaning up around it all. "I've just worked hard to get it prepped for the students," says Alston. He's even stayed till midnight a couple nights. It's a lot of work. "Especially when you talk about two floors, how to strip it down and cleaning it two or three times just to make sure it's right," says Alston. Druid Hills Principal Allison Hiltz has also been rushing around. She's had a few last minute hires. "I've made recommendations. They're in the process of coming this way. We have a couple that we hired from out of state and they're finishing they're licensure," says Hiltz. "If they're not going to make it that first day, doesn't matter. I have a certified teacher in there to get them up and ready to go." CMS still has to hire about 250 teachers for this school year. But because some like Hiltz's have to transition out of their old jobs or change cities or states, many new hires won't be in the classroom on day one. CMS Human Resources Director Dan Habrat estimates between 350 and 500 classes will begin the school year without their permanent teachers. He says in those cases principals plan to use support staff such as assistant principals and counselors to teach those classes initially. "So that you're not talking about a substitute walking in and starting off and leaving in a week. You're talking about someone who cares about the kids, will know the kids, will build relations, and get us started," says Habrat. The district is in a hiring flurry now because the county and state gave CMS more money than expected. CMS found out in July it could add an additional 500 teachers. But where to put those teachers was then the question. The district was already planning on adding mobile classrooms this year, but it tapped another 82 to deal with more classes. It costs about $25,000 to get a mobile classroom ready. Many of them won't be ready by the time school starts, because of the last minute notice. So some teachers may be conducting class in the media center or in the cafeteria. CMS officials expect all mobile classrooms will be in place by October.