Superintendent Sit-Down: Pender County Schools

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Pender County Schools Superintendent Steven Hill sat down Wednesday for an interview on Good Morning Carolina to discuss current issues in the school district.

Dozens of teachers took off school today to rally at the state capitol. As a result, Pender County Schools, along with New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, closed school for the day. Hill said once 25% of the teaching staff decided to take the day off, it became a safety issue because the school district could not provide enough substitutes to cover all of the classes.

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“We decided that the better thing to do was make it an optional work day,” Hill said. “We wanted to give the teachers the opportunity to advocate”.

At Topsail High School, the Varsity Baseball team was recently unable to play in the state playoffs because of a player’s ineligibility. When it comes to the situation that left both parents and players upset, Hill explained the district’s first concern is the students. He said the first thing officials did was see if there was anything they could do to help them. Hill also explained they are still in the middle of the investigation and he couldn’t say much about it; however, in the next 10 days or so, they hope to have more information. He said officials do sympathize with the students in the situation.

He also answered multiple questions sent to WWAY from viewers.

One viewer asked how Pender County Schools plans to compete with surrounding counties with more resources and incentives for teachers. Hill’s response was although Pender is a coastal county and draws teachers that way, their turnover rate is the issue. With a turnover rate of about 18%, Hill said the district is second highest in the region. He explained the county commissioners are working with school officials to find a supplement rate on top of base pay. The district is working on creating an environment where teachers want to come to the area and stay.

Another wanted to know why there were not more arts positions funded when opening the new Surf City schools. Hill explained there is legislation that includes staged in funding for those teachers and the school has tried to ensure there is an art, band and chorus position for those schools.

Over the next few days, we are sitting down with the other superintendents from our area on Good Morning Carolina.

New Hanover Co. Schools Superintendent Tim Markley is scheduled for Thursday, May 17. Columbus Co. Schools Superintendent Alan Faulk is scheduled for Friday, May 18. Whiteville City Schools Superintendent Kenny Garland is scheduled for Monday, May 21.

We want to ask them about the questions that matter to you. E-mail your questions to newsroom@wwaytv3.com.