After a large exodus of teachers last year, the Prince George’s school system is putting in place new measures to improve teacher and administrator recruitment and retention.
“We must focus on getting the right people in the right positions, measure their performance through fair and accurate evaluations, and support them so that they continuously grow and develop, and make data-driven performance decisions so that we have our staff positively impacting student achievement,” said Robert Gaskin, chief of human resources, during a Nov. 21 report to the school board.
The school system had 983 voluntary departures during the previous school year, said Debra Sullivan, recruitment and retention officer in the Office of Human Resources.
Sullivan said many of those departures were due to the issue of employee compensation, based on voluntary online exit interviews.
The school system hired 1,195 new teachers for the current school year, more than double the number of teachers hired two years ago, when the school system’s budget was tighter.
During the summer, the school system finalized a negotiated pay increase with the county teacher’s union, providing teachers their first pay increase in three years, and during the meeting, the board approved a 2 percent salary increase for employees represented by the county principals and administrators union.
The average Prince George’s teacher salary is $63,566, and the county ranks fifth highest in teacher pay out of 10 metropolitan area school systems, according to the Washington Area Boards of Education 2013 Guide.
“Increased salary and wages will help us better attract and retain highly effective employees, and highly effective employees are what move our school system forward,” said Allison Huey, acting director of employee relations.
Board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Boston (Dist. 4) said she has heard from constituents who never hear anything back after they apply for teaching positions.
“They have to constantly call and email and so forth,” Boston said. “I think that by this time, we should have something in place.”
Gaskin said the department is working to improve the online application process to improve notifications.
“We know that we must continue to leverage cutting-edge technology to improve,” Gaskin said. “This is something we are researching and working to dramatically improve.”
Gaskin said the new online application system should be in place by the start of the recruitment season in March.
Board member Edward Burroughs (Dist. 8) said he has heard from teachers and assistant principals who have told him they can find better opportunities for promotion outside the school system.
Douglas Anthony, human resources officer, noted that the school system, with assistance from a grant from the New York-based Wallace Foundation, a philanthropic education nonprofit, is now in the second year of a program to prepare assistant principals for school leadership.
An assistant principal training program is expected to begin in January, Douglas said.