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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Retaining Teachers Highlighted In CMS HR Report

Lisa Worf
Courtney Mason in her classroom at Piney Grove Elementary.

According to the annual CMS human resources report, the district has made a lot of progress in terms of filling teacher positions, but salaries and retention are still an issue.

In a presentation to school board members this week, CMS HR Director Avery Mitchell says there were 80 vacant teacher positions at the beginning of the school year, compared to about 90 last year. She predicts the number will be even lower next year, since they will begin hiring teachers on March 31, a week earlier than past years. Retaining teachers is still an issue with turnover being close to 14 percent in the 2015/2016 school year. It was 16.2 percent the previous year.

The median salary for local teachers is in the low 50s but the salary for beginning teachers is only slightly over $40,000. Mitchell says the low salaries when compared to many other parts of the country make it challenging to recruit teachers and get them to stay. She says it’s also difficult to get experienced teachers to teach in low-income, low performing schools.

One way they are working to change that is by developing a pool of veteran teachers who act as mentors to less experienced teachers or take on additional students with the support they need for more pay.