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Committee told teacher turnover not an issue

Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

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According to school officials, teacher turnover is not currently an issue in Hanover.

Superintendent Jamelle Wilson

Superintendent Jamelle Wilson

At a June 30 joint education committee, comprised of school board members, supervisors and county staff, Superintendent Jamelle Wilson presented committee members with data on the number of teacher resignations and retirements from the 2004-2005 school year to the 2013-2014 term.
The data show the most teachers recently resigning in the 2012-2013 school year with 103 who left. This year 57 instructors out of about 1,500 total were reported to have left Hanover schools and 19 retired, according to the data. In the data, numbers include any special education, gifted or resource teachers.

“We know that there are individuals that are leaving us for lots of different reasons,” Wilson said. “Top four reasons: they are staying at home with their own children, they are going to other Virginia school districts, they’re being promoted or going into another industry.”
And the numbers appear to be fairly low.

“From my observation, our existing turnover is lower than our surrounding neighbors,” said David Myers, assistant superintendent of business and operations.
Myers added that the Hanover school division is not losing any teachers to other school systems.

“That’s just the bottom line. People are not leaving Hanover to go anywhere else,” he said.

Myers said that from working for both Henrico’s and Chesterfield’s schools in the past, he knows that teachers are not leaving to work for other divisions.

“I’m one of the few people that actually has real life hands-on experience on both sides,” he said.

This year, the school division started doing exit interview surveys again.

Surveys are given to instructors at the end of the school year, but an interview is not actually required of the person leaving the division; however, they do have the option.

Teachers are asked to fill out a roughly 11-to- 12-question survey about their choice to leave Hanover schools.

“Some people have chosen to take us up on the interview,” Wilson said.

After looking through the exit survey, Wilson said she discovered that many teachers, especially at the elementary level, were retiring.

Current Chairman and Chickahominy District School Board member Bob Hundley Jr. said he thinks some teachers are leaving because of the increase in extra work and responsibilities in regards to reporting classroom data and grades.

“My guess is that there’s a fair amount of teachers who’ve decided ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Hundley said.

He added that many teachers end up at private schools because of that reason.

Hundley commented that teachers get less and less time to perform these responsibilities.

“I imagine that there [are] teachers who decide, ‘I’ve had enough,’” he said.

Between previous years and this recent school term, numbers have dropped a decent amount. According to the data, in the 2007-2008 school year, there were 168 teachers who left and 28 who retired.

Myers said in a Monday interview that it was a time of uncertainty because of the economy.

He attributed the increase in resignations and retirements in 2007 to when the district stopped subsidizing retirees’ healthcare.

“You see these numbers pretty high back then and I think it pushed some folks out,” he said.

Because of the economy and changes in retirees’ health care, Myers said that some people may have left the school system and moved to another industry. Some people might have also left to work in other school districts, because of events such as Chesterfield opening several new schools, he said.

“These are unique attractive opportunities,” Myers added.

As for the lower numbers this year, some county officials asked if the recent 2 percent merit-based salary increase impacted the data.
Chickahominy District Supervisor Angela Kelly-Wiecek said that her constituents and teachers she has talked to said they were happy with the 2 percent raise, but it was only “a start.”

“As opposed to ‘Now I’ve got my 2 percent raise and I’ll stop job searching,” Kelly-Wiecek said.

Former Mechanicsville District board member Glenn Millican Jr. expressed caution toward these numbers. Millican said they should pay attention to demographic and age groups and reasons specific to those.

“Without knowing that it’s difficult to see what’s going to be trending,” he said.

“People will never level with you completely but if you compare to other national demographic trends, you can apply those to attrition within the different groups,” Millican added.