Faculty turnover brings questions, myriad answers

Published 12:15 am Sunday, March 11, 2012

For longtime educator Joe Loviza the alarm sounded when month after month he and other school board members were told more teachers had resigned or retired.

“That’s entirely too many,” Loviza said in January as he and the other four members of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees met in a monthly meeting and were asked to approve departures of faculty members.

“You heard me say that last month and I’ll keep saying it until we find out what the problem is,” said the board’s representative from District 3. “We have people quitting our schools right and left… Whatever the problem is, the administration needs to address it.”

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In the past three years, 233 certified staff — teachers, directors, administrators — have walked away from their jobs at Vicksburg Warren public schools, either resigning, retiring, being fired or simply not being recommended for contract renewal. About 30 others have indicated they will resign or retire at the end of the current school year, and 17 more remain undecided about returning next year.

More than 100, about 15 percent of the 673 budgeted certified employees, left in the 12 months from December 2010 to November 2011. That number includes 52 resignations, more than double the 23 recorded in the same period in 2009-10, and a nearly 60 percent increase from the 33 who resigned in 2008-09.

Retirements added an additional 35 in 2010, down from 40 in 2009 but up from 22 in 2008.

Responding to Loviza, two-year Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said: “The reason for that? Accountability.”

The buzzword of the No Child Left Behind era, “accountability” holds teachers, schools and school districts responsible for how well their students perform on state-mandated tests.