Teachers leave in part from pay and benefit cuts

Thirty employees left the Fluvanna County Public Schools system over the summer. This week, Fluvanna County Public Schools published the exit surveys of the teachers who left the district, some of whom had harsh words for county government.

Of the 27 teachers who were sent exit surveys, 10 were completed and returned to the district. More than half listed pay and benefits as their reason for leaving.

“Until the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors decides to fund and back its schools, I fear we will continue to see teachers leaving,” said one exit interview, of an employee who had been with the district for 21 years. “Every year it’s the same story and has been as long as I’ve been here. Less pay, higher benefits premiums taken from our checks, underfunded classrooms/libraries – it was finally enough to make me go elsewhere.”

It’s not just teachers who left while feeling the pinch of budget cuts. A speech language pathologist left the district complaining of poor building maintenance and feeling “overworked and underpaid.”

Fluvanna County Public Schools is one of the largest employers in the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, in the first quarter of 2012, Fluvanna County Public schools was the 12th largest employer, with just over 500 employees. With 30 employees leaving, that’s over six percent of the Fluvanna School district’s workforce that needs to be replaced. A normal employee turn over rate for an American employer is usually around three percent.

As researcher Dan Bobinski, reports on the website Leadership Development, in 2006 the average cost of replacing an employee was calculated as $17,000, with the cost of replacing high level workers well above this average. Multiply that by 30 and Fluvanna County Public Schools will pay half a million dollars to replace the employees they lost over the summer.

“Public education is almost crucified at times,” said Fluvanna County Public Schools Superintendent Gena Keller at Wednesday’s school board meeting. “But the reality of working day to day with every single child takes very passionate, committed, dedicated, bright people and those are people who we want to keep.”

The school board noted the exit interviews and thanked Assistant Superintendent Chuck Winkler for conducting them.

“It shows us what we can do better, and what things we didn’t have any control over,” said School Board Chair Camilla Washington.

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