DeKalb Schools lost more than 900 teachers last year

More than 900 teachers resigned during DeKalb school Superintendent Steve Green’s first year on the job, possibly the largest exodus the district has ever seen.

Human capital reports from meetings held between August 2015 and July 2016 show 915 teacher resignations in that time period. That’s about 15 percent of the current 6,191 teachers. According to district data, teachers left for various reasons including retirement, pay and proximity to their homes.

While 915 teachers resigned in the past 12 months, 1,274 were hired.

District officials Wednesday said the number of recent resignations was not the highest ever, but cited numbers that differ from those previously reported on the school system’s website.

Green said by phone that more resignations were reported in 2007 (1,088), 2013 (1,041), and 2015 (1030), which differs from what's reported on the district's website.

Neighboring Gwinnett County Schools, which employs nearly twice as many educators, lost fewer than 600 who resigned in the same period.

Green said some turnover generally is expected for a district transitioning to higher standards.

“It’s a natural byproduct as we begin to raise expectations and increase the level of rigor and evaluation expectation that there are going to be people who are going to find their way out of the organization,” he said. “And, to a certain degree, that is expected.

Some, he said, “we would encourage to leave, if they’re not ready to do what we need to have them do for our children.”

Leo Brown, chief of human capital for the DeKalb County School District, said on July 13 the district had about 250 vacancies. According to his report to the board dated July 11, there were 356.5. A month ago, that number was 372.5.

Pay has long been an issue for DeKalb County teachers, who went several years without a raise amid poor economic conditions and district funding woes.

In the past year, some teachers have seen raises boost their salary nearly 25 percent based on the number of years they have taught. The starting salary during the 2015-2016 school year for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree was $43,349.98 annually.

Rebekah Morris, a teacher at Cross Keys High School, said recently that other teachers also were seeking jobs closer to home, citing a long commute as a burden.

“Many don’t live close to their schools in DeKalb,” she said.

From the 2016-2017 budget, teachers will receive a 3 percent raise and a $500 retention bonus, with the bonus paid after the school year’s first quarter.