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CMS Still Hiring Teachers, Bus Drivers; Schools Get Security Upgrades

Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE
CMS officials roll out plans for new school year.

With the first day of school less than two weeks away, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials still need to hire more than 100 teachers and bus drivers. 

At a press conference Wednesday, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox also addressed lead in some schools’ water and efforts to make schools safer for the district’s more than 148,000 students.

CMS’ interim human resources director Gerri Parker said the system hired more than 1,500 teachers for the new school year, but still have 78 spots open. The majority of the vacancies are in high schools and certain subjects.

“We got about 40 percent in high schools, but we still have the greatest need in math, exceptional children, and the variety of career and technical education courses that we offer,” Parker said. 

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE
Superintendent Clayton Wilcox (middle) says parents will see heightened security at schools this year.

The district’s new transportation director Adam Johnson said he will have nearly 1,100 buses on the road this year. He’s short 44 bus drivers at this point.

“The good news is we have another 28 drivers scheduled for training Aug. 20 as well as Aug. 27," Johnson said, "And another group of 20 [scheduled for] Sept. 24."

Adams said they are also offering staff bonuses of up to $200 to help in recruiting qualified bus drivers.

As for safety measures, Superintendent Wilcox said parents will see a heightened sense of security at schools this year, starting with entrances.

“We’re making every guest who comes in, including me, sign in through our security procedures,” Wilcox said. “We think that it is vital to know who is in the building, even if the face is familiar.”

Wilcox said they are also installing camera systems, motion detectors and new locks at some schools. CMS is continuing to train students on how to respond to violent incidents, and are providing a way for students and others to report suspicious behavior anonymously. He also said they're hiring more social workers, psychologists and counselors to meet students’ mental health needs.

Wilcox also addressed concerns about lead found in the water at 27 elementary schools.

“In some places where we found that we had some devices we needed to replace, we replaced them and before people came to us and said, 'That doesn’t taste right,'" Wilcox said. "But I think it’s important for me to say that we did not find any levels of chemical trace in our water that we thought would be harmful to kids."

Wilcox said they hope to have all elementary schools’ water tested for lead by mid-fall, and then will begin testing at middle and high schools.