Education

CMS teacher turnover hits 16.5 percent, a 12-year high

Educators and citizens rallied in Charlotte this summer for better teacher pay and protection of teacher-assistant jobs.
Educators and citizens rallied in Charlotte this summer for better teacher pay and protection of teacher-assistant jobs. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools lost 1,420 of its 8,609 teachers last year, bringing the turnover rate to a 12-year high, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Thursday.

The district’s turnover rate was 16.5 percent, compared with a state average of 14.8 percent. The last time CMS topped 16 percent was 2002-03, when the rate was 16.8 percent.

CMS traditionally tops the state average. This year, turnover inched up locally and statewide.

Here are five takeaways from the report, which measures teachers who left between March 2014 and March 2015.

▪ Departures for personal reasons, including dissatisfaction with teaching, have risen sharply in the past two years. In 2012-13 just over 2,100 N.C. teachers left for personal reasons; last year 5,680 did. This year’s numbers included 1,547 who left for family relocation and 1,209 who cited job dissatisfaction or a career change.

District breakdowns on reasons for departures were not available Thursday.

▪ Almost 4,500 of the 14,255 N.C. teachers who left their district remained in education, moving to other districts, charter or private schools or non-teaching jobs.

▪ North Carolina’s beginning teachers had a turnover rate of almost 21 percent last year, compared with just over 13 percent for teachers with career status, or tenure. The state has been raising salaries for early career teachers in hopes of keeping them longer.

▪ Dismissals remain relatively rare, with 982, or 7 percent of the state’s departures, caused by firing, resignation in lieu of firing or contracts that weren’t renewed.

▪ Economic recovery can prove challenging for school districts. Statewide and in CMS, turnover dropped during the Great Recession and has been climbing for the past four years, except for a slight dip in 2013-14.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

How districts compare

Here are 2014-15 turnover rates for Charlotte-area districts and the state’s three largest districts (Wake, CMS and Guilford).

District

2015 turnover

Lincoln

10.3%

Catawba

11.8%

Mooresville

11.9%

Gaston

13.0%

Wake

13.4%

Cabarrus

13.9%

Iredell

14.7%

NC

14.8%

Guilford

15.0%

Union

15.6%

CMS

16.5%

Newton-Conover

18.1%

Kannapolis

18.6%

Hickory

21.4%

Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction

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