Highline Schools says usual number of teachers resigned, retired at year-end 1By Jack Mayne A reader recently pointed to a long list of teachers leaving the Highline School District, and indicated readers “should be scared stiff” about how many were leaving – but the school district said the amount of resignations, retirees and other reasons was about normal for the end of a school year. “I don’t know what normal is according to other districts, … but it’s not different at all from the past couple of years,” said Catherine Carbone Rogers, Highline District’s chief communications officer. “This is something we do watch, we do pay attention to staff resignations and we, along with the Highline Education Association, encourage people to complete an exit survey so we can get a good handle on if there are changes we need to make to retain staff we want to retain.” Carbone Rogers said the district seeks ideas on retention from the teacher’s association that would help them increase staff retention. Just before schools closed for the year, the number of people leaving was fewer than 170, and the list included all types of personal reasons for leaving, including retirements, medical problems, leaving the area because of family reasons, or to take a job in another district, even to begin self-employment and even because of poor performance evaluations. ‘Poor facilities’ cited She said one of the major reasons often mentioned for leaving Highline was because of the “poor facilities,” teachers not wishing to work “in terrible conditions” at some of the buildings and wanting to work in better facilities. If the Highline School District directors on July 20 approve, a $299 million bond issue will be on the November ballot. Voters rejected one for $376.0 million in 2014 as well as a $385 million measure in 2013. “We do have high standards for our teachers, and we need to have high standards in order to meet our goals for students because we have some pretty ambitious goals in terms of our graduation rate and other things,” Carbone Rogers said. “Teaching is hard work and we want to attract and retain the staff that are going to help us meet those goals.” Another big reason is teacher pay, and she said that is why the Highline School District has given teachers increases. She said from the 2014-15 school year through the upcoming 2016-17 year, teachers in Highline have received a 4.8 percent increase in state-funded salary and a 10.5 percent increase from district-funded compensation, and Highline pay is competitive with nearby districts. The salary increases should help stabilize attrition. It should be noted that the neighboring Federal Way School District had 172 teachers resign and 23 retire this past year from a total teacher employment of 1,549 teachers. That district showed figures that said the resignation rate has increased over the four years from 6.2 percent in the 2012-2013 school year to 11.1 percent this past 2015-1016 school year. A national study in the Peabody Journal of Education showed relatively few early-career teachers in Washington State were leaving the state system, even though novice teachers are notoriously mobile. The study said five years after they began teaching, 72 percent of beginning teachers were still in the state education system although only 44 percent were in the same school. While teachers moved within districts, especially larger districts, only about 9 percent, moved to another district.]]>