A total of 380 teachers, or about 11.7 percent, of Douglas County teachers are leaving the school district this year. That figure is down from the 2012 turnover rate of 13.26 percent recorded by the Colorado Department of Education.
Returning teachers were required to return contracts by June 23.
After two spring protests surrounding the district’s new teacher evaluation program, and reports that large numbers of teachers would leave DCSD this year, the district report makes school board president John Carson very happy.
“It validated what we’ve been hearing,” he said. “The vast majority of teachers are staying. The TELL survey tells us they’re happy with their school environment.
“These numbers are not large. If (departing teachers) wish to be vocal about it, it indicates they’re not happy. So we wish them well.”
The state education department’s Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey showed 84.7 percent of DCSD teachers agree their school is a good place to work and learn.
But it also showed 22 percent of teachers — more than twice the state average — planned to leave the district or the field of education entirely. The district’s recently released teacher statistics show those numbers did not come to fruition.
Teachers’ union president Brenda Smith had a different take on the numbers.
“Three hundred eighty teachers leaving is equivalent to 10 elementary schools losing their entire staff,” she said. “Most of these teachers leaving are experienced teachers with a record of accomplishment and close ties to the community. It is sad that the Douglas County School District is saying this is the new normal.”
DCSD also projects the addition of 150 new teaching positions for the 2013-14 academic year, bringing the total to about 3,600. Carson said that’s in part to fill positions lost to layoffs in previous years and accommodate a constantly growing student population. He credited the district’s ability to hire added staff “to our strong financial position.”
Two schools — Mountain Ridge Middle and Sand Creek Elementary, both in Highlands Ranch — recorded no teacher turnover.
Highlands Ranch’s Saddle Ranch Elementary — where parents protested May 30 after learning none of the teachers earned a “highly effective” rating — saw the highest turnover at 30 percent, followed by Franktown Elementary at 29 percent.
The turnover rate would have been lower, Carson said, but for a high percentage of retirees. He attributed that to DCSD’s decision to phase out its severance program, which awarded departing teachers a lump sum of about $38,000.
In 2012, 53 teachers retired. This year, the final year of the program, 101 are retiring.
“That clearly upped the retirement numbers artificially,” Carson said. “We took the money we saved from phasing that out and put it back into the compensation program for the teachers … back into teacher salaries.”
Carson acknowledged the evaluation system is a work in progress, but believes the new figures prove it didn’t significantly impact teacher turnover.
“We understand the rating system is new and will continue to evolve,” he said. “We will certainly work with folks on that. But there’s no indication of major discontent from that.
“I don’t see anything that should be alarming or purports with a story that teachers are fleeing the district.”
Why teachers are leaving DCSD
Resignation other: 71*
Resignation to work for more money at another metro-area district: 62
Resignation to move out of area: 61
Resignation to care for family member: 26
Resignation to work for a school district closer to home: 16
Resignation involuntary: 12
Resignation to work for more money in Denver metro-area private sector: 11
Resignation to work for private sector closer to home: 7
Resignation personal conflict: 5
Resignation due to program reduction: 1
Information provided by Douglas County School District
* Reason other than those listed, such as career change, spouse relocation, stay home with children, etc.