Interim ABSS supt. Harrison proposes agreement with UNC that would use students to help fill teaching vacancies

Alamance-Burlington school board members previewed an agreement during their latest meeting Tuesday night that could help ABSS fill ongoing teaching vacancies by hiring students in the Master’s program in the school of education at Carolina.

School officials have repeatedly said that ABSS had started each of the last two school years, including the current one that ends next Friday for most students, with nearly 100 classroom teacher vacancies.

A formal agreement with the UNC School of Education Fellows for Inclusive Excellence will be presented for a vote at the board’s next work session in two weeks, school board chairman Sandy Ellington-Graves told her board colleagues Tuesday night.

Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, ABSS would pay each participating student in the master’s program at UNC’s school of education a total of $6,000 over the three-year term of the agreement, based on a copy of the document that ABSS interim superintendent Dr. Bill Harrison presented during a brief discussion Tuesday night.

If school board members approve the agreement at their work session on June 11,ABSS would pay a portion of what each teaching fellow receives in exchange for student-teaching in schools designated as Title I, meaning they receive additional federal funding because they have higher proportions of socioeconomically-disadvantaged students than other ABSS schools.

For year one, ABSS would pay each participant $1,000 per year; $2,000 during the second year; and $3,000 for each participant during year three, Harrison said.

The University of North Carolina Foundation at Chapel Hill, Inc., a nonprofit organization, would provide each of the teaching fellows $24,000 spread over three years, in exchange for working at least three years in one of the school system’s Title I schools; ABSS would contribute a total of $6,000 per teaching fellow over that three-year span, based on the draft draft agreement that Harrison presented Tuesday night.

Harrison said that several other school systems have signed on to participate in the UNC School of Education fellows program, including Chatham and Person county schools, as well as Carolina Community Academy, a K-2 school in Roxboro that Person County schools operates in collaboration with the school of education at Carolina.  “The reason I’m bringing it is because it’s a multiyear contract,” the interim superintendent explained Tuesday night.

Saying “because our student population is so diverse,” school board member Seneca Rogers asked Harrison if he’d contact some of the state’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to see if they might be interested in participating in the program, which Harrison agreed to do.  Rogers, who was appointed in November 2023 to serve out the remaining portion of former school board member Patsy Simpson’s term, graduated from N.C. A&T University, an HBCU in Greensboro that’s part of the UNC system.