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Pitt teacher attrition rate comparable to state average

Ve-Lecia Council

Ve-Lecia Council

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Friday, October 19, 2018

Teachers are leaving Pitt County Schools at a rate comparable with other districts in the state, according to school officials.

Pitt County Schools’ attrition rate for 2017-18 was 15.25 percent. Out of 1,600 teachers, 244 left the district and 67 were teachers in their first three years of service, according to Ve-Lecia Council, assistant superintendent of human resources. 

At a Board of Education work session on Monday, Council reported that the statewide teacher attrition average is 13.53 percent.

She also noted that in the past five years, Pitt County’s rate has decreased.

“Kudos to us, because we’re reducing it little by little,” Council said.

When a teacher leaves the district, he or she is asked to give a reason. North Carolina teachers left for 28 stated reasons.

Only three Pitt County teachers left because they were dissatisfied with teaching, but 13 resigned to change careers, Council said.

One of the biggest reasons for leaving Pitt County Schools was to teach in another district — 79 educators moved to a different public school system, two moved to a charter school and seven moved to private schools.

“I like to see where folks are going,” Council said. “Last year, we had 11 teachers go to Beaufort County.

“(Teachers moving to teach in a different district) is an area we are targeting and having crucial conversations with individuals before they actually leave to see how we can support them more,” she said.

Significant teacher movement also was seen to Wake County, Wilson County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, she said.

School board member Carolyn Doherty asked if the teaching supplement was higher in Beaufort County than Pitt County. School board member Benjie Forrest said it was lower.

“There’s a point where (a higher supplement) would make a difference (in retention),” Forrest said. “If we get our supplement high enough to really make a change in a person’s salary, we’d see a difference, That’s why this board has got to continue to pursue the county commissioners in moving the supplements up.”

Both Wake and Wilson counties have higher supplements, according to Forrest.

“I know three (of those moving to Beaufort) were moving closer to home,” Council said. “That’s the reason people moved to Craven, Edgecombe, Greene and Martin counties too.”

Doherty noted that Pitt County Schools is bigger than a lot of other school districts.

“They might not be able to on in their home district, so they commute to Pitt County,” she said. “Then when they have a chance to not commute anymore, they go back to their home district.”

Pitt County Schools often replaces teachers who have moved out of the district by hiring teachers who are moving out of other districts, Council said. Last year 86 teachers moved to Pitt County Schools from other districts. The statewide mobility rate between districts is 4.83 percent.

Another significant area of attrition is family relocation; 28 teachers resigned to move away, Council said.

Superintendent Ethan Lenker reminded the Board of Education the district recruits teachers through the Teach for America program.

“They’re only committed for two years,” he said. “We know that going in that we’re getting good quality teachers for two years, hoping to get a third year. We know we get 15 to 20 good-quality people.”

School board member Betsy Flanagan asked if  Teach for America and visiting international educators were included in the 244 teachers who left Pitt County Schools.

The district has no turnover among those teachers, Council said.

She said that 17 educators moved to non-teaching positions within Pitt County Schools. Many of them became assistant principals. While these teachers count as part of the 244 teachers who left, they are actually still part of the school system.

The district’s goal for the 2018-19 school year is to reduce teacher turnover by half.

“We want to turn that 79 (who left for other districts) into less than 39 … and the beginning teachers down from 29 to 15 leaving,” Council said. “We know that’s aggressive, but we set our goals high.”

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