Wauwatosa School Board gets an update on teacher turnover
66 educators left district after 2012-13 school year
The Wauwatosa School District released an updated report on teacher turnover last week that showed that 33.62 teachers resigned before the current school year on a full-time-equivalent basis, continuing a trend of rising teacher departures that began in 2010.
Another 21.58 teachers were lost to retirements and early retirements, temporary-contract expirations, relocations, performance layoffs, teachers who left under circumstances making them ineligible for rehire, and family reasons.
A total of 66 individual teachers left the district.
For those who resigned, salaries and morale — in general, a lack of trust or support from the administration — were most often cited as reasons for leaving, said Human Resources Director Dan Chanen, who handles exit interviews.
Part of a trend
The turnover data is calculated as the number of teachers from the 2012-13 school year who are not returning for the school year just started, Chanen said.
From a 6 percent turnover rate in 2009 and 2010, the rate has risen over two years to more than 10 percent in the current report, evidence of a changed public-employee environment in the wake of Act 10, which has weakened bargaining, changed pay scales, affected benefits, and changed the relationship between educators and the administrations that employ them.
The Wauwatosa School District is not alone in experiencing high turnover, Chanen said in a presentation last week to the School Board.
A recent report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed, for example, that the Milwaukee Public Schools had lost more than 2,300 employees — teachers and other staff — out of 9,300 full-time positions, since June 2011.
Turnover is an issue everywhere, Superintendent Phil Ertl agreed.
"Any time I've had a conversation with anybody that's in upper administration in any other school districts, without fail they've all said the same thing," Ertl said.
High number at East
Among the schools, Wauwatosa East High School accounted for nearly half of the resignations, losing 16.5 teachers on an FTE basis. Among others, Madison Elementary lost six; Tosa West, 5.2; and Roosevelt, five. Some of the smaller schools lost more on a percentage basis. The Alternative School, for example, lost half its staff by losing just one teacher.
The high turnover at East was a topic of concern for some board members. Chanen said that he had noticed that those who left East and agreed to an exit interview in many cases expressed dissatisfaction with pay.
Chanen's analysis showed that departing staff had an average of 8.73 years of service. This conforms with an observation by the board and the administration that the eight- to 10-year period in a Tosa teacher's career is a point on the salary scale where pay increases reach a plateau, making pay at other districts look more attractive.
The average departing teacher, not including retirees, makes $42,443, Chanen said. And the average age at which these teachers left, not including retirees, is 35.43 years old.
Among other points of analysis, Chanen said teachers overwhelmingly said what they liked best about their jobs were the students and their co-workers, and what they liked least was a sense of lack of trust or support from the administration, how change was handled, and salaries.
Despite these issues, most teachers participating in exit interviews said they would recommend Wauwatosa as a place to work.
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