High turnover for Moffat County teachers; survey highlights lack of resources | CraigDailyPress.com

High turnover for Moffat County teachers; survey highlights lack of resources

About 25 percent of Moffat County School District certified staff, which includes teachers, school counselors, registered nurses and all positions that require a teaching license, left the district following the 2014-15 school year, a higher turnover rate than in either of the past two years. Coincidentally, more than 75 percent of Moffat County teachers said they don't have sufficient access to resources, according to the 2015 TELL Colorado survey.

— Moffat County School District said farewell to approximately 25 percent of its teaching staff at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Of the 38 certified staff that left the district — meaning those with a teaching license — more than a quarter were retirees.

Turnover is higher this year compared to 17 percent last year and 16 percent the year before, though turnover rates naturally cycle, according to Executive Director of School Supports and Personnel Renae Dove. The reasons teachers cited for leaving ranged from moving closer to family members or significant others to wanting to find a district more closely aligned with their teaching philosophy, Dove said.

However, teachers have been complaining about a lack of classroom resources to Board of Education members for months, a point that was hit home in the recently released TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Colorado survey, which polled more than 31,000 teachers statewide in 2015.

Less than a quarter of MCSD teachers agreed that they have sufficient access to appropriate instructional materials and resources, according to the survey. The response stood in stark contrast to the 71.1 percent of teachers statewide who felt they had sufficient resources, and to the 2013 survey results, in which 72 percent of Moffat County teachers agreed they did have sufficient access.

For long-time Craig Middle School science teacher Norm Yoast, the resource shortage was a definite factor in his decision to accept a position with the Little Snake River Valley Schools in Baggs, Wyoming, along with his wife, teacher Deb Yoast.

"This is kind of an opportunity to let me do more teaching, and I'm getting the opportunity to do a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) lab," he said. "I've always wanted to teach STEM. It was something, with the budget and things, that I was never able to get going here."

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Losing teachers to the better-funded public school system in Wyoming is something that school districts throughout northern Colorado struggle with, Dove said.

"It is such a pay increase to drive 40 miles to the north," Dove said.

Though Colorado's public school funding system is the target of criticism from MCSD administrators and school board members, it is still unclear why so many fewer Moffat County teachers feel they have the resources they need than teachers statewide.

Yoast said his classroom budget at CMS for the coming school year would have been less than a tenth of what it was when he started teaching in Moffat County 22 years ago. The position in Baggs will come with both a significant pay raise and better classroom funding. He, too, blames state funding challenges and doesn't fault administrators.

Yoast is one of 14 teachers leaving the district from CMS, which has seen the most turnover this year of any school, including all but one eighth-grade teacher. Seven teachers left from Moffat County High School, five from East Elementary School and four from Ridgeview, Sandrock and Sunset elementary schools. Additional teachers have changed positions or titles within the school district.

Administrators have filled all but two of the positions vacated, and are still looking for a sixth-grade teacher and an elementary literacy coordinator. The hiring process is also still under way for one teacher and one classroom paraeducator for the newly re-opened Maybell School.

MCSD Superintendent Brent Curtice said that the school board's recent approval of funding for iPads was an answer to teachers' calls for more resources. The initiative provides iPads for the fifth- and eighth-grade and Advanced Placement classrooms. If additional funding is approved in the coming years, the initiative will eventually roll out iPads into all classrooms kindergarten through 12th-grades.

"Those resources will now be coming in a digital format to teachers and kids going forward, so I think that is a response to the lack of resources that I've heard and seen," Curtice said. "The state of Colorado doesn't have more money to give to children K through 12. In fact, it looks like less, so at the end of day, the community is going to have decide what kind of public education they want to be responsible for in their community."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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