With the economy sagging there are many people looking for jobs, and many of those are turning to teaching. New Hanover and Brunswick County schools have so many applicants they are actually turning people away. "We have more folks interested in teaching here than we can handle, and of course that means someone else doesn't get a job and disappointment. But, it still brings the best teachers we can get into the classroom and for our students," said Dr. John Welmers of New Hanover County Schools. Terry Chestnutt of Brunswick County schools echoes those same sentiments. "We are always interested in those who are interested in children and their welfare and well-being in education. It's certainly more competitive than it has been in the past." Last year, New Hanover County received more than 2,000 teacher applications, but hired just a little more than 100. Welmers said in the past, a statewide teacher shortage forced recruiters to comb the east coast looking for qualified educators. Now with slow growth in the county and the economy forcing people to hold on to their jobs, the need for recruiting teachers has declined. Both New Hanover and Brunswick County administrators agree, the biggest challenge in the coming months will be funding. "Most of our positions are funded through state funds, so as that money goes down, that's going to affect us in what we have to do. Locally, we also know there is going to be a loss in tax revenue in our local economy, so that's something we are going to have to deal with too and work closely with the county commissioners, to look at where that funding base will be," Welmers said. In our current economy, educators are wondering how long will those resources hold up. In New Hanover County, tighter budgets could mean cut backs, though not in the number of teachers in the classrooms. Instead, it could mean cutting out certain programs, or not making upgrades like new paint.
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