LUMBERTON — Almost half of the teachers from the Public Schools of Robeson County who packed their desks and left the system last year continued in education outside of the county.
The North Carolina Board of Education recently released information showing that 240 teachers left Robeson County schools during the 2014-2015 school year. Of those 240, 119 left to pursue jobs in education outside of the county, 65 left for personal reasons, seven were released by the county, 45 left for reasons “beyond the county’s control,” such as retiring, and four left for other reasons.
The numbers were released by the Department of Public Instruction to show why teachers all over North Carolina left their jobs. The turnover rate highlights the number of teachers who have left the system in which they teach for any of 28 self-reported reasons.
The Public Schools of Robeson County had as 15.88 percent turnover rate for the last school year, just above the statewide average of 14.8 percent. The turnover rate places the Public Schools of Robeson County 68th on a list of 115 public school systems.
In the 2012-2013 school year, 273 teachers left the system, an 18.14 percent teacher turnover rate. In 2013-2014, the rate dropped to 13.67 percent.
Turnover rates are increasing statewide. In 2010-2011, the state’s turnover rate was 11.2 percent. It jumped to 14.1 percent by the 2013-2014 school year.
The highest teacher turnover rate for the 2014-2015 school year was 33.55 percent in Northampton County schools, and the lowest rate was 5.75 percent in Graham County schools.
“In the past five years, the state’s teacher turnover rate has increased in all but one year,” State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a statement from the Department of Public Instruction. “We won’t reverse this trend until we address the root causes of why teachers leave the classroom.”
Stephen Gaskins, assistant superintendent of Human Resources with the Public Schools of Robson County, thinks he knows that root cause.
“Every county around us gives bonuses,” he said. “However, we do not.”
Gaskins provided a document outlining the incentives that are offered in surrounding counties to keep teachers in their school systems.
Robeson County offers a Mentor Support Program, 5 percent salary supplement, paying for licensure fees and $1,000 of tuition reimbursement a year. Surrounding counties offer similar or better incentives. Scotland County schools offer a $1,500 sign-on bonus for high needs areas such as special education, math and science, and Hoke County schools offer a $500 relocation bonus to a fully certified and highly qualified teacher who was relocated to the county within a year of their start date.
North Carolina has ranked in the 40s in the country in teacher pay, but starting teachers were given a $2,000 raise to $35,000 in the state budget tha recently took effect. But critics complain that the General Assembly didn’t do enough for veteran teachers. All state employees, including teachers, will receive a $750 bonus shortly before Christmas.
The Robesonian tried to find teachers who had left the local system to be interviewed, but none responded to our Facebook requests.
Gabrielle Isaac can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.