A report on Hawkins County teacher retention indicated that more than half of teachers who resigned at the end of the 2020-21 school year went to another school system, and the most common reason was for more money.
Hawkins County Schools increased teacher salaries in the 2021-22 fiscal year in an attempt to be more competitive with neighboring school systems.
Despite those pay increases Hawkins County was still under new state mandated minimum teacher salaries, and had to increase teacher salary spending by another $1.3 million in 2021-22.
Director of Schools Matt Hixson told the BOE Thursday that with this being the first year under the new higher teacher pay scale, he’ll be interested to see how teacher retention statistics were affected compared to the 2020-21 school year.
Hawkins County Schools Personnel Director Teresa Drinnon presented the BOE with a report during Thursday’s meeting that 46 teachers resigned in 2020-21, with 22 of those teachers leaving to work at another Tennessee pubic school.
Another 16 left to enter non-teaching professions; five left for out-of state teaching; one left for health; and two left to return to college.
”You can see we’re being robbed”
Of those who took Tennessee teaching jobs, five went to Hamblen County, four went to Kingsport, two each went to Rogersville City, Greene County, Washington County, Johnson City, and Monroe County. One went to Bristol City.
Drinnon said those other school systems are “stealing” Hawkins County’s most experienced teachers.
The teachers who resigned in 2020-21 had an average number of years experience of 7.6 years, and 17 had achieved the highest level of effectiveness at Level 5. Another 13 were at Level 4, eight were at Level 3, and three were at Level 2.
“You can see we’re being robbed,” Drinnon told the board.
Drinnon added, “You can see that they are stealing, or recruiting, our better teachers. When we look at the teachers that they’re stealing from us, you can see that compensation was the highest reason.”
Hixson noted that they’re not just losing people.
“Losing people is bad enough,” Hixson said. “Losing teachers is bad enough. When we’re losing the top tier teachers in our system year after year after year, to the tune of 30-40 percent of those who leave us in are in Level 4-5, that’s going to have an affect on our (achievement) data. It’s not just COVID gap data that we’re worried about moving forward.”
”Constantly bringing in new teachers”
With the salary improvements approved by the board for the 2021-22 school year, Hixson said they stand to retain some of their better teachers.
Hixson: “When we’re competitive, and they already feel welcome and supported in the system because we d an excellent job of training and supporting our staff, then we start to combat issues of why people leave Hawkins County after they’re trained and after they’ve worked here an average of seven-plus years, and then leave. We can’t make up ground when we’re constantly bringing in new teachers out of college and replacing Level 4 and 5 teachers. It just doesn’t add up.”
During their exit interview 17 teachers indicated their reason for leaving was compensation. The next highest reason was five teachers left due to the commute.
Of those who left, 97.8 percent indicated they would recommend working at Hawkins County schools to a friend.
What teachers liked most: Students
In rating various aspects of their job on a scale of 1-5, with five being the highest, Supervisor Relationship received an average score of 4.5.
Communication overall received a 4.2; Environment received a 4; and Base Salary received a 2.9.
When asked what they liked most about their job, 16 said the students and 15 said the people and work family. One said environment and one said Class Size.
Drinnon noted that the exit interviews took place before the 2021-22 pay increases were in place.
Hixson said they will compare the 2020-21 teacher retention data with 2021-22 to determine how much of a difference the pay increases made on teacher retention.