free hit counter code Teacher exits have decreased in Lawrence school district, report shows – The Lawrence Times – Freeht.buzz

Teacher exits have decreased in Lawrence school district, report shows – The Lawrence Times

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The number of teachers who left the Lawrence school district at the conclusion of the 2022-23 year was lower than in previous years, according to a human resources report.

End-of-year certified staff — or teacher — exits dropped to 153 at the end of the 2022-23 year from 184 exits at the end of the 2021-22 year.

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There have been 19 midyear teacher exits so far this year, compared to 24 total in 2021-22 and 29 in 2022-23.

Altogether, there were 206 teacher exits in 2021-22 and 182 in 2022-23, according to the report.

Assistant Director of HR Megan Epperson said the 153 teacher exits at the end of 2022-23 include positions that were cut as part of the district’s budget cuts. The Lawrence school board in February 2023 voted to cut 50 full-time teacher positions at the middle and high school levels.

However, Epperson said her team does not have a record of how many of those 50 positions were filled at the time cuts were made, nor which of those employees whose jobs were cut are still with the district in other positions.

She said the process to remove the positions took “the greater part of three to four months,” as shifting student enrollment and other staff exits required recalculations. Mostly it was completed through natural turnover such as retirements and resignations, she said.

“This process included cutting some positions left vacant in 2022-2023, cutting some positions staff had exited at the end of 2022-2023, and facilitating the transfer of some staff members to open positions,” Epperson said via email. “We accomplished our goal of making these cuts through natural attrition.”

At approximately this time of year in 2022, HR reported 23 end-of-year teacher exits to the board; 19 in 2023; and 16 currently, Epperson said.

A survey asking certified staff members their reasons for leaving the district at the end of the 2022-23 year yielded a response rate of 32.6%, according to the report, and 66% of those respondents had been with the district for six years or less. The largest percentage of respondents, 26%, were in their first year working with the district.

Those who left cited salaries; job duties not being as expected; dissatisfaction with a reassignment or change to their position; and work-life balance as general reasons they were leaving. They also cited lack of administrative leadership and support at the district and building levels, according to the report.

Continued work on employee retention

Currently, there are 30 certified staff openings and 43 classified staff openings; in September 2022, there were 31 certified and 114 classified staff positions open, according to the report.

Kristen Ryan, executive director of HR, and Epperson were among HR staff members who presented to the school board during its meeting on Monday. They told board members they see a correlation between salary increases and employee retention.

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Some staff members who left have returned after the district increased wages, according to Epperson, and the district has been able to hire more new employees while retaining more current employees.

Board President Kelly Jones on Monday said state funding has a bearing on local budgets.

“The one thing we have control over is compensation,” Jones said. “The one thing we don’t have control over is how much money we get in the budget.”

Although positive, Jones said, the base hourly pay increase of $2.12 for classified staff and the teacher raises in July came at the cost of numerous budget cuts. In addition to the 50 teacher positions cut, the board voted to close Broken Arrow and Pinckney elementary schools after May 2023.

Epperson said she and her colleagues are also steadily working to improve the district’s wellness initiatives for employees. Staff members have reported burnout that affects their ability to fully show up at work.

Nearly two-thirds of the district’s classified staff members who responded to a survey in March 2023 indicated that they are experiencing low engagement with their jobs for many reasons. (Read more about those survey results in this article.)

Staff members don’t have results for a similar teacher survey yet, but teachers took the survey in the fall and HR hopes to have the results in the spring. Last year’s results for teachers showed a high level of disengagement.

The district is now looking to host yoga instructors, cooking and nutrition classes and self-defense classes for staff at their schools, Ryan said. The HR team is in conversation with community gyms and organizations like the Lawrence Arts Center to hopefully offer staff discounts on memberships and programs.

A new Kansas program will provide tuition assistance to aspiring teachers earning a bachelor’s degree while working alongside teachers as paid apprentices. The program will be offered beginning next year.

To expand its staff recruiting reach, HR staff will add career fairs at two universities to their outreach, including the University of Texas at El Paso, a leading Hispanic-serving university, and Tennessee State University, an HBCU (Historically Black College or University).

The school board was not asked to take any action on HR’s report Monday. View the full report attached to the item on the meeting agenda.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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