Should Moffat County School District implement formal exit interviews?

Lauren Blair

— With high teacher turnover and large numbers of students leaving the school district each year, some parents and teachers are asking why Moffat County School District does not do formal exit interviews with departing teachers and students.

Twenty-five percent of Moffat County’s teachers left the district (more a quarter of those teachers retired) after the 2014-15 school year, and Colorado Department of Education school membership data shows an average decline of 72 students per year over the last five school years.

One parent, who chose to leave the district and homeschool her two elementary-aged children last year, didn’t believe claims from some teachers and administrators that a lack of technology was a major reason for students leaving the district.

“I think our district is putting more emphasis on administration and technology and the emphasis is not on classroom education and teachers, and I feel like our teachers are really suffering the consequences from that,” Kacey Green said of why she left the district. “Even though I loved all the teachers (my kids) had, I don’t feel like they were able to teach to their potential and because of that, I don’t feel like our needs or the students’ needs were being met.”

Green requested at July’s school board meeting that school administrators implement an exit interview process for students withdrawing from the district in order to better understand why they chose to do so.

“It wouldn’t cost anything,” Green told the school board. “Maybe an email, a phone call, a five-minute meeting.”

Executive Director of School Supports and Personnel Renae Dove said that principals communicate with the students and families who choose to leave the district, in part to help find other ways to support students such as through part-time enrollment or online options.

Exit interviews are common practice for many businesses, including large local employers The Memorial Hospital and Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Neighboring Hayden and Steamboat Springs school districts, however, do not keep a formal exit interview process, though Steamboat Springs School District Human Resources Director Katie Jacobs said they do invite resigning teachers to talk through issues or concerns with her or administrators.

MCSD Superintendent Brent Curtice said he believes it’s better for the process to remain voluntary. This summer, he met with 20 of the 38 teachers who resigned or retired, all of whom chose to meet with Curtice voluntarily.

“My philosophy that I carry every day is an open-door philosophy,” Curtice said. “People can come in and have a conversation with us, whether they’re leaving or not… I don’t want it to be so formalized that it takes away the opportunity to have a rich conversation.”

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

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