Teacher turnover in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools fell slightly in the most recent school year, according to a report released Friday by the state Department of Public Instruction.
But more teachers left the district for “personal reasons,” which include taking a job in another state or changing careers. The rate also remains higher than the five-year average.
A total of 1,300 of the district’s 8,586 teachers left their jobs in the 2013-14 school year – a 15.1 percent turnover rate. That’s down from the 16 percent turnover CMS experienced the year before. The five-year average turnover rate is 14.25 percent.
The rate puts CMS in the middle of the pack across the state. About 11.5 percent of Wake County Public School System teachers left last year. Durham Public Schools had a 20.2 percent turnover rate.
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Teacher turnover peaked in CMS in 2001, when 21.8 percent of teachers left. The district’s lowest rate was in 2011, when 11.1 percent of teachers departed amid a challenging job market.
Last year, about half of CMS teachers left for “personal reasons,” which the state says ranges from leaving to teach at a non-public school or in another state, changing careers or becoming dissatisfied with teaching.
Charles Smith, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, said that he’s seen teachers leave CMS because they weren’t happy in their jobs.
He also said persistently low pay has driven younger teachers out of the state, where they can earn higher salaries.
“New teachers left because they didn’t see much future in it,” Smith said. “If you’re a brand new teacher and know you’re never going to make more than $50,000, what kind of incentive is that?”
The state’s overall teacher turnover rate last year was 14.1 percent, roughly even with the 14.3 percent rate from the year before.
This year’s results come after three straight years of increased teacher turnover in both CMS and statewide. Teacher pay had been held stagnant since the economic recession in 2009.
Over the summer, state lawmakers passed a controversial teacher pay plan increase that amounts to an average 7 percent pay raise. Under the plan, younger teachers receive much larger raises than their more experienced counterparts.
This year’s report does not cover teachers who left after March, so it does not include any reaction to the pay raise.
Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement that he is proud of the pay raise, but says more work is needed. He said he would work with the General Assembly for more career opportunities for teachers.
“Teaching is difficult work and we need to continue to respect and reward our teachers to keep them in the profession,” McCrory said.