Turnover rate low for TPSD this year

TUPELO – Tupelo Public School District was able to keep a lot of familiar faces in its classrooms this year.
Between the 2008-2009 school year and the 2009-2010 school year, the district had 57 licensed staff members retire or resign – an attrition rate of 8.5 percent for its staff of 669, Jim Turner, the district director of human resources director, told the Board of Trustees at its Tuesday meeting.
Usually the district has about a 13-14 percent turnover of licensed staff, which includes teachers and administrators who are required to hold specific certification from the state. Other school districts in the region reported having 13-14 percent turnover, Turner told the board.
“It speaks volumes that we were 5 percent below turnover rate for the region,” said Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver.
The district also made progress on minority representation among teachers and administrators.
Three black licensed staff members left the district, but eight new minority licensed staff members were hired.
“We’ve probably made some progress, but we’re not where we want to be,” Shaver said. The district has no specific target for the percentage of minority teachers, but they would like to have more with the district’s large black student body.
In all, the district hired 77 new licensed staff members for the 2009-2010 school year. The increase in positions primarily comes from the additional teachers needed to decrease class sizes in second and third grades.
The district had 450 applicants for those positions, but it is hard to track what percentage were minorities, because applicants are not required to give their race, age or gender, Turner said. Only 35 applicants gave information on race. The district is an equal opportunity employer.
“Our first concern is the best teacher who matches the classroom needs,” Shaver said. “But we need to be reflective of our student population.”
The district is planning on getting more principals and administrators involved in the recruiting process and standardizing the interview process in hopes of boosting minority recruiting, which is a national issue, Shaver said.

Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal