School division’s staff turnover rate climbs

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County schools started the year off three teaching position having to be filled by long-term substitutes.

Linda Hodges, supervisor of human resources, told the School Board on Thursday evening that so far this school year, 114 new staff members joined the school division, 76 of which were teaching positions, with three teaching positions still unfilled. Those positions are  being filled by long-term substitutes.

“This is the first time that I can remember in the 17 years that I’ve been in SCPS that we started the year with long-term subs in positions that we couldn’t fill,” she said.

She added that the division’s turnover rate continues to climb and has reached 15 percent, but is still below the national average of 20 percent. She said that 10 percent of leaving teachers are taking positions in neighboring Rockingham County.

She added that the division is also asking leaving teachers to answer an exit questionnaire on why they are leaving the division.

She said that according to the questionnaire results, the No. 1 reason teachers are leaving is due to a lack of support from community leaders. The No. 2 reason was due to a lack of respect from parents and community members for the teaching profession.

Also on Thursday, the board heard a presentation on the current staffing of the Technology Department, which includes a new network technician, six instructional technology resource coaches, and the possibility of a 1:1 technology initiative for the school division.

Superintendent Mark Johnston said the restructuring of the technology department is meant to “try to stretch thin resources.”

Instructional Technology Supervisor Timothy Taylor added that the technology department has moved to a division-wide approach where two instructional technology resource coaches will serve each campus. This replaces the previous arrangement where a technology resource coach was located at each elementary and middle school, leaving the high schools without any support.

Kelly Storey, federal programs coordinator for the school division, gave the board information on Title I student support and International Literacy Day held on Thursday.

Storey said that International Literacy Day is an annual fundraising event to raise literacy awareness. Storey was joined by Shenandoah County Public Schools Title I reading specialists to explain to the board how they teach literacy in the classroom.

The board was also provided with the memorandum of understanding with the Sheriff’s Office for the division’s school resource officers.

Johnston said the school resource officers are fostering positive relationships with students.

“Shenandoah County students are taught not to fear law enforcement but to see them as a trusted friend,” he said.

Board member Katheryn Freakley added that the resources officers have also integrated themselves into the schools.

Also at the meeting:

• The board approved the revised division goals for Shenandoah County Public Schools.

• Connie Pangle, principal at Triplett Tech, provided information to the board regarding the summer academy where 65 middle school students participated in Triplett Tech programs for five mornings in August.

• Johnston gave a first day of school report, noting that the preparation of the staff paid off as the school year began with a smooth start.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com th