Prince George’s County Public Schools has a lot of new faces this school year, with over 831 new teachers after over 600 teachers left the system for better compensation in other jurisdictions.
The influx of new teachers comes because of the loss of over 600 teachers departing the system, said Deborah Sullivan, recruitment and retention officer in the Division of Human Resources.
“We have experienced a higher attrition rate this year, in that we’ve lost approximately 600-plus teachers,” said Sullivan. “It is higher than in past years.”
Estimates from the school system on the typical attrition rate in previous years were not available as of press time.
Sullivan said exit surveys indicated that much of the attrition was due to compensation.
“It’s not that our teachers have been unhappy with Prince George’s, they’ve been very happy, but we’ve been on a salary freeze for the past four years, and those teachers sought opportunities elsewhere,” Sullivan said. “Compensation was the reason many of our staff members indicated when they exited last [school] year.”
Sullivan noted a 2012 Washington Area Boards of Education report which found that Prince George’s County ranked sixth out of 10 Washington, D.C., metropolitan area counties in terms of teacher salary and compensation.
According to the WABE report, Montgomery County leads the region with an average teacher salary of $74,855. The average salary for a teacher in Prince George’s County is $63,566.
Sullivan said the losses made up a small percentage of the total teacher body in the county.
“In our cadre of 8,600 teachers, if we lost 700, we still have many, many dedicated educators with Prince George’s County,” she said.
To replace those teachers, the school system has recruited and hired a diverse group of new teachers, including experienced and 403 new teachers, Sullivan said.
Kenneth Haines, president of the Prince George’s County Educators Association, the county teacher’s union, said the number of teachers leaving the school system is high, but he is hopeful it is not a continuing trend.
“We’ve got a new negotiated agreement, and it seems like the economy is heading in the right direction. Hopefully this is a one-year glitch and not a four or five year pattern,” Haines said.
Sharon Hodges, coordinating supervisor with the Office of Talent Development said 146 new teachers are coming to the system through its Resident Teacher program, which prepares those entering teaching as a second career.
From Aug. 5-7, the school system ran a three day induction program for its new teachers, preparing them for ongoing initiatives including the new national education standards, known as Common Core.
Hodges said the school system also held its first “boot camp” for new teachers held July 29 to Aug. 1, instructing them on classroom management, data analysis and instructional strategies.
“It helped new teachers understand the Prince George’s way of doing things,” said Sullivan. “The exposure helps lessen the learning curve and their anxiety for transitioning into a new school district.”
Haines said he is hopeful the new school administration will work to reduce the number of teachers leaving for greener pastures.
“You are never going to hire your way out of a teacher crisis. We need to start worrying about retention and stop chasing people out the door,” Haines said.