Fewer teachers left Johnston County schools last year than the year before, and the school system’s teacher-turnover rate was lower than the state average.
The Johnston County Board of Education reviewed the numbers at its November meeting.
Of the 2,262 teachers in Johnston schools this past year, 242, or 10.7 percent, left at some point. The year before, in 2014-15, that number was 321, or about 14 percent of the 2,292 teachers employed at that time.
In 2013-14, the turnover rate was 12.56 percent, or 282 of the county’s 2,245 teachers.
But turnover doesn’t mean teachers leave because they don’t like working in Johnston, said Brian Vetrano, chief personnel officer for Johnston schools.
That might be the case for some, but turnover also includes teachers who retire, for example, or move to another county where the only difference is higher pay.
In a survey this past year asking why they were leaving, most of Johnston’s departing teachers, or 44 percent, said they were leaving for personal reasons; the survey did not ask them to elaborate. Another 25 percent said they were leaving for a teaching job in another county.
Those percentages stay pretty consistent from year to year, Vetrano told the school board.
Most teachers leaving Johnston are also young teachers – those with fewer than four years of experience.
School board member Keith Branch said young teachers often aren’t “sure teaching is what they want to do.”
Board chairman Larry Strickland asked if Johnston’s teacher supplements played into losing some teachers.
“It could,” Vetrano said, adding that an increased supplement could help attract teachers from other districts.
The school system is pleased overall with its teacher turnover, what it calls its “attrition rate,” Vetrano said. But Johnston schools want to see improvement in the rate at which it attracts teachers from outside the county.
In other words, “we would like to recruit more experienced teachers,” Vetrano said.
In an effort to recruit and retain quality teachers, Vetrano said, the school system “must continue to provide competitive supplements, especially in hard-to-fill areas such as math, science and EC,” or exceptional children.”
Superintendent Ross Renfrow said he thinks Johnston schools are a great place to work and that each school’s culture is the key to recruiting and retaining good teachers.
“But people also need to be compensated,” Renfrow said. “We will continue to work with our county commissioners regarding the supplement in order to distinguish ourselves when compared to surrounding counties and to further reduce the attrition rate in our system.”
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett