McInnis: ‘Teacher shortage is real’

Identified as common, real problem across District 25

By Kevin Spradlin

A science/social studies teacher is needed at Rockingham Middle School. Leak Street School needsĀ certified teachers in math, social studies and English. Hamlet Middle School needs a math teacher and Monroe Avenue Elementary School has multiple vacancies for licensed elementary school teachers.

Tom McInnis

Tom McInnis

These are among at least 18 vacancies in the Richmond County public school system that are unfilled right now. Tom McInnis said it’s a problem across the 25th District.

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the state senator-elect conducted listening tours from Rowan County to Scotland County and said it’sĀ a common problem throughout the district.

“The thing that I found most troubling (is) the shortage of teachers,” McInnis said in a post-Thanksgiving interview inside The Pee Dee Post office. “The teacher shortage is real. It is right now. We have teaching positions that are not filled. The money’s in the bank to pay ’em, the job is open, the job is available, and we’re having to fill the job with temporary folks because we can’t fill it as a permanent position.”

McInnis said the issue became glaringly apparently during a district-wide listening tour where he met with local government representatives, school officials and more.

“I’m compiling that information now to find out what the most pressing issues now are for each group,” McInnis said, indicating each set of issues and potential legislative solutions be prioritized by category or industry.

McInnis said he met with or heard from, among others: Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent of Richmond County Schools; Dr. Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College; Rick Sago, Richmond County manager; and officials from Hoffman, Rockingham, Ellerbe, Dobbins Heights and Hamlet.

McInnis is set to travel to Raleigh for orientation on Tuesday and Wednesday. He’ll be sworn into office on Jan. 14, in Raleigh, and his first legislative session begins Jan. 28.

“I don’t want to go up there and then have to learn what the problems are,” McInnis explained as his reasons for moving forward with the listening tour. “I’m interested in making things happen.”

McInnis said he’s anxious to look for a solution to a median income problem. In Richmond County, the median household income is slightly more than $30,000, he said. It’s a bit over $40,000 in Stanly and Rowan counties, and nearly $48,000 in neighboring Moore County.

“Those are numbers that we’v got to do something about,” McInnis said.

On Nov. 4, McInnis, of Ellerbe, won 50.4 percent of the vote to oust one-term incumbent and former Rockingham mayor Gene McLaurin, a Democrat, from the senate seat. McInnis garnered 28,496 votes to McLaurin’s 26,632 (47.1 percent). Libertarian P.H. Dawkins, of Hamlet, tallied 2.5 percent (1,412 votes).

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  • raiderhayer

    if tom would have just looked around this town he would have seen that if a teacher were to look at relocating to richmond county they would in most cases be taking a cut in pay from the surrounding counties, as well as see that there would more than likely be no employment for their spouse and finally they would also see that there are no quality family entertainment opportunities. they would have to drive to a neighboring county in order to see a movie. you can only go to discovery place kids so many times and not everyone is into canoeing down Hitchcock creek.
    so yes the shortage is real but the reasons behind the shortage are real too. until we build our county up and can provide proper employment for everyone, no matter what they come up with in Raleigh next year, the teachers will continue to look to other counties to better provide for their families.

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