QPS teacher retention "not where we want it to be"

Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center Director Evie Morrison reports on teacher retention and “hot rocks” during Thursday’s District Improvment Committee. The committee heard reports on retention, teacher morale and student achievement. |H-W Photo/Deborah Gertz Husar
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 20, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Sep. 20, 2019 12:04 am

QUINCY -- Teacher retention rates by building in Quincy Public schools ranged from 84 to 100% for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

"It's not where we want it to be. It's not where I want it to be. When you're at 85, 90%, we can't sustain the district at that level of turnover," Superintendent Roy Webb said. "We've got to get it to a significantly higher level than that."

The percentages include teachers who left QPS or retired -- not those who shifted positions within the district or within the building as are reported on school report cards.

Quincy High School, the district building with the largest staff, reported an 89 percent retention rate with 12 teachers leaving the district and one retiring.

The Early Childhood and Family Center had the lowest retention rate at 84 percent with six teachers leaving, and Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center and the ABC (Academic Behavior and Community) Academy and Adams County Regional Safe Schools had 100% teacher retention.

While it's inevitable that some teachers leave each year for new jobs or leave Quincy to be closer to family or when a partner takes another job, the district wants to retain as many staff members as possible by focusing on school environment and morale.

The QPS District Improvement Committee met Thursday to provide what Webb called "situational awareness" to the School Board and the community on teacher retention, teacher morale viewed through the 5Essentials Survey and student achievement.

"The board had two goals with their district improvement plans: one to increase student achievement; the other to increase teacher morale and better teacher retention rate," Webb said. "All principals or directors are briefing how they're doing."

School Board member and committee co-chairman Shelley Arns said it's important to give administrators "a chance to voice" their progress.

"We have an end goal in mind, and this gives us a chance to check in and know that progress is being made, goals are being considered," Arns said. "It always gives you a frame of mind of where we are and where we want to be, and if maybe it's not the best way to get there, we need to think of something else to get us there."

Thursday's session, another quarterly meeting for the committee, provided some benchmark data to measure against in the future.

"You saw some good numbers. You saw some numbers we really have to improve on," Webb said. "The goal is to just get a tick in the right direction. As long as I've been here, the last four years, we had some going up, some going down. Last year, most of them went down through all that turmoil, so what we're looking for now is to get everybody headed in the right path."

With the transitions complete with QPS, and the last of the new K-5 elementary schools opened, the primary focus turns again to student achievement and meeting student needs.

Administrators outlined needs ranging from additional social-emotional supports to additional staff.

"We have a lot of personnel needs that we don't have the resources right now to fund," Webb said.

The district spent $600,000 on additional personnel for this school year, but "that was just a start," Webb said. "If we're going to be a world-class school district, we have to meet a lot more social-emotional needs, some of the math interventionists, some of the instructional things."