TPSD teacher turnover higher than usual

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo School District faces an unusually high teacher turnover this year.
The district currently has vacancies for 64 licensed educators, Personnel Director Jim Turner said during Tuesday’s school board meeting. That number, which includes teachers, counselors and administrators, is higher than the district has seen in recent memory, Turner said.
Although the numbers can still change, the district has 27 retiring educators and 14 who have resigned from a total force of 629 licensed teachers this year. The number of vacancies also includes 25 temporary positions.
Temporary positions are those that were created or filled after the school year began. District policy requires those who hold those positions to resign at the end of the school year, although they can be rehired, Turner said.
The district had 66 open licensed positions but filled two of them at Tuesday’s school board meeting. It had 57 vacant positions at the end of the 2009-10 school year, from 18 retirements and 39 resignations, Turner said.
Tupelo had 40 vacancies after the 2008-09 school year.
This year’s high turnover comes during a particularly tumultuous school year in which Superintendent Randy Shaver asked for and was granted a release from the final two years of his contract.
During the past year, teachers have expressed frustration with a large amount of paperwork, and teachers and community members shared concerns about school discipline.
Interim Superintendent David Meadows said the district must renew its focus on teachers and principals as instructional leaders.
“We need to recommit and recommunicate to our teachers and all staff and community members that we believe in safe schools as sanctuaries for students and lighthouses for learning,” Meadows said.
The district’s current teacher pay scale, which is based on experience and educational attainment, pays about $3,000 more than state requirements, and Meadows said the district is considering an additional raise for all of its employees.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.

Tupelo teacher vacancies:
- 2011: *66 (27 retirements, 14 resignations,
25 temporary positions)

- 2010: 57 (18 retirements, 39 resignations)

- 2009: 40 (3 non-renewals, 16 retirements,
8 resignations, 13 temporary positions)

THE NUMBERS FROM THIS YEAR HAVE NOT BEEN FINALIZED