High turnover at Sequim schools with many teachers retiring

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Twenty-three new employees will start work at Sequim School District when classes begin Sept. 4, a trend that is expected to continue in future years as a large portion of the district’s staff reaches retirement age.

“We’re going to continue to have a higher rate of retirees each year,” said Karen Sande, the district’s human resources director.

Seventeen of the 23 new hires are teachers.

Eight of the them have no prior teaching experience, Sande said.

The cadre of teachers at Sequim High School will have five rookie teachers this year, plus three who begin the new school year with three years or fewer of teaching experience.

“We have a lot of experience on our staff,” Superintendent Kelly Shea said.

“That’s good for now, but it means we’re going to have a lot of turnover in the next few years.”

The roster of Sequim teachers includes 50 of 175 teachers older than 55 years, Sande said.

The aging workforce extends to support staff as well, with 65 of the 161 employees on the classified roster older than 55.

“That’s a lot of attrition,” School Board member Sarah Bedinger said.

New staff have been slated for all-day orientation programs to acclimate to the district as the new school year approaches.

Shea, though, said the district’s procedures and culture are best passed on throughout the year as bonds form between the new hires and existing employees.

“I think the best way to get people familiar with the culture of a district is through those mentorships that develop naturally,” he said.

In total, the district will begin the 2013-2014 school year with 162 full-time equivalent teaching positions, down from the 164 in the 2012-2013 school year.

Business Manager Brian Lewis told the School Board at its meeting Aug. 19 that the reduction in full-time teaching positions reflects an anticipated decline in enrollment of 30 students across the district’s two elementary schools, middle school, high school and alternative school.

Spending on teachers will increase slightly in 2013-2014.

The upcoming year’s budget spends $18,356,870 on teachers and classroom support, up from the $18,155,190 in the 2012-2013 school year.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 26. 2013 6:07PM
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