High attrition rates continue to plague Lee County School District | News, Sports, Jobs
The Lee County School District continues to shed staff at a high rate, which officials hope to prevent through things like centralized hiring and visiting teachers.
Human Resources Executive Director Robert Dodig told the school board last week that the district had completed a year of hiring the most new school teachers at 678, which was also its year of hiring the most at 929 lost the 2020 financial year, there was only a gap of 134 jobs.
“In order for us to keep up, we need to do more to reverse the trend of employee departures,” he said.
For fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the percentage of teaching staff turnover is 29 percent compared to fiscal year 2020 of 19 percent.
“It has increased in the year after COVID. The 29 percent are not only people who have left the district, but also people who have moved within the district.” said Dodig. “Eleven point seven percent transferred within the district in fiscal year 2022, 17 percent terminated or left employment with the district.”
Turnover in non-teaching staff was 34.7 percent in fiscal year 2022, compared to 26.7 percent in the previous year.
“Our benchmark in our strategic plan is 8 percent, which we have never reached,” said Dodig.
However, the district has surpassed the 75 percent mark in converting offers to hires, with fiscal years 2021 and 2022 topping 80 percent.
The critical issue lies in the percentage of teachers who separate due to non-compliance with credentials. Dodig said the percentage of teachers separated for non-compliance continues the four-year trend below the 3 percent benchmark.
Current and future strategy developments include improvements to the insurance and benefits package and centralized recruitment over the next six months. Dodig said the centralized hiring will take some of the pressure off schools, as headquarters will send five or six teachers who are eligible for interviews to the schoolhouse.
“We are moving forward with guest teachers and the opportunity to use a company to hire guest teachers.” Dodig said, adding that they are also looking to hopefully expand their cultural exchange program. “We have 20 cultural exchange teachers.”
Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier said he sat down with teachers to get a climate of their conditions and what they wanted, with the two most important being salaries and benefits. He said that people join an organization and a company because they have purpose and the ability to make a difference.
“If we can hire 678 but not lose 900, we’re fully staffed. Certainly teachers are hard to find and support professionals are hard to find. Human Resources finds them.” said Bernier. “It has to be about retention, and retention is a process that starts with onboarding and continues throughout our school building. We should focus more on what it takes to keep teachers.”
Bernier said the goal is very simple, HR will be effective if they use it so helpfully and responsively. He said their main job is to be helpful and responsive to attract and make employees effective.
“I really applaud you for going and speaking to teachers without admins.” CEO Armor Persons said. “We need to listen and they need to speak up. That would solve many problems before they decide to leave. We need to be proactive and get some groups together to talk regularly.”
Board member Sam Fisher said it’s the human element, the culture of a school, that they need to improve in order for talented students to come back and teach within the system.
Board member Jada Langford Fleming agreed that it is about the culture of the school the children grew up in, which encourages them to enter education and return to the district to begin their careers.
“I knew there were wonderful teachers who inspired me to get into training. From there it starts. At the end of the day, teachers want to feel valued and what they do matters. As a teacher, you said the word impact. You want to make a difference, especially in a career like this. Teachers want personal connections and want to be seen as professionals.” said Langford Fleming.