On Thursday, the Northampton School Board met for its regular work session. On the agenda was a brief on teacher retention as well as recommendations from the Teacher Retention Committee (TRC). The following recommendations for the 2017 school year, which were the result of data collected and analyzed by the TRC, was presented to the board:
-Review survey results w/administrative staff
-Present/Review 2016 action plan process and outcomes to SB.
-Revise plan as needed; incorporate principles of Continuous Improvement
-Present action plan to SB
-Progress monitor effectiveness of plan. Present progress to Board
-Report survey findings to School Board
-Report to AdvancED
Board Member Nancy Proto, who also serves as chair for the TRC, presented a brief on a conference she attended in Wythe County that specifically dealt with teacher retention. The data presented at the conference confirmed much of the data the TRC had collected over the two survey periods they had conducted.
After Proto concluded the brief, she then made a motion that the board accept the TRC recommendations. The motion did not receive a second, and so fell to the floor, and did not come before the board for a vote.
With the motion on the floor, and the TRC recommendations rejected, Proto next made the motion to dissolve the Teacher Retention Committee. The motion to dissolve the committee was seconded, and passed unanimously. The teachers that attended the meeting took this opportunity to exit.
The issue of teacher retention is a national problem, but for rural communities like Northampton, it has become a crisis.
The TRC was formed almost two years ago to address teacher retention and all the problems that it creates for staff, administration, and more importantly, the students. This year, the county lost almost 25% of its teachers. The county routinely loses 18 to 25% on an annual basis, which is nearly twice the national average.
The move to reject the work, and essentially dissolve the TRC appears self-defeating. In conversations with members of the Teacher Retention Committee, the Mirror was told that there was some negativity surrounding teachers that were part of the committee. However, given that these teachers were passionate enough, and cared enough to volunteer the little bit of free time left after the classroom, lessons planning and working a second job, it would seem the effort put into the data collection and analysis would have been taken more seriously.
Whether this rejection lowers teacher morale even more, widens the trust gap with administration, and exasperates teacher retention is something that should be monitored as the school year unfolds.