More teachers leave LES

At rate 3-times higher than other elementary schools

Michelle Stuckey
August 26, 2011 at 9:02 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Luling Elementary had more than three times as many certificated employees leave the school last year than any other elementary school in the district.

For the 2010-2011 year, Luling had 17 people leave with the majority saying they were either retiring or leaving for unexplained "personal" reasons. That gives the school about a 22-percent turnover rate for the past year. The school also had more certificated employees leave than any other school in the district, seconded by 15 people leaving at Hahnville High.

The elementary school with the next highest amount of certificated employees leaving was A.A. Songy Kindergarten Center with five - two left for personal reasons and three retired.

"There is obviously a clear disparity between people leaving Luling Elementary School and people leaving other schools in the district," said School Board member John Smith. "When you see this kind of situation, it does tell you that you need to take a closer look."

Last year, Luling Elementary School also had the highest number of students receiving waivers to attend a different school in St. Charles Parish. That means that about 15 percent of the students who live in the school's attendance zone went to school elsewhere. When district performance scores were released last November, Luling Elementary scored the lowest in the parish with 85.7.

At the middle school level, R.K. Smith Middle had the most certificated employees lost last year with six people leaving, half of those listing personal reasons. At the high schools, Hahnville had 15 people leave with the majority naming personal reasons and Destrehan High had nine leave.

Superintendent Rodney Lafon said that there are many factors that could contribute to employees leaving for personal reasons, including if a spouse worked at a nearby plant or refinery and was transferred.

Paul Gibson, Executive Director of Human Resources, said that some employees who are terminated are also allowed to list personal reasons for leaving as part of their severance, instead of listing that they were fired.

Any employee can say that personal reasons are why they left during the schools' exit survey, and administrators said that when that reason is listed there is usually no further explanation.

Turnover rates can also seem inflated because of the number of faculty at each school. For example, at A.A. Songy the turnover rate is 25 percent - higher than at LES - because the total number of employees is so small.

"Just looking at pure numbers is a little misleading because we have more teachers than other schools," said LES Principal AJ Pethe. He also noted that the school's scores have consistently risen over the past few years.

"We need to keep track of it and look at it over time," Lafon said. He went on to note that a single year is not a large enough chunk of time to accurately evaluate the data.†He said that the board and administration should be about collecting and accurately studying data, not about making rash decisions based off of a snapshot of data.

District wide, retirement accounts for 39 percent of all certificated employees who left the school system last year and "personal" reasons accounted for 31 percent. Other reasons included accepting outside employment, non-renewal of contract, the birth of a child, dismissal, relocation out of state, attending medical school, meetings and paperwork, a child's illness, returning to school for an advanced degree and taking a break from teaching.

The district's turnover rate is about 9.7 percent for teachers, 5.2 percent for librarians and 3.7 percent for counselors.

The district lost 17 minority employees last year, but hired 22 - including six new minority teachers at HHS and four at LES.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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