'Alarming' Wake teacher turnover numbers to be released Thursday
Posted April 16, 2014
Updated August 29, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — By day, Joshua Gallagher is a Wake County middle school teacher.
At night, he’s a custodian.
"I don't want to leave this profession, but there is not much motivation to stay," he told school board members during a recent school board meeting. "When it is 10:30 at night and I am scrubbing a toilet or cleaning a urinal, I start to think maybe I could do something else.
“It shouldn't be that way for me. I am at a crossroads."
Gallagher, who works two part-time jobs to pay the bills, isn’t alone in deciding whether to stay in the teaching profession. District leaders described mid-year teacher resignations as “alarming,” possibly as high as an 40 percent increase from last year, WRAL has learned.
The turnover numbers will be announced during a press conference at Underwood G.T. Magnet Elementary School Thursday afternoon.
Jackie Jordan, the principal at Underwood, told WRAL Thursday that losing good teachers has an impact on the quality of education schools can provide.
"Our schools are great and it makes our state great, but what parents need to remember, lawmakers need to remember and the community needs to remember is that it starts in the classroom," she said. "Without great teachers in our classrooms, our schools will suffer."
Jordan said three teachers have already left Underwood during the 2013-14 school year, and two more have told her they won't be back next year.
"One teacher left California 11 years ago, and is still making $20,000 less in teacher pay than when she left California," Jordan said. "She loves her job, but unfortunately, due to the financial responsibilities for her family, she has to look for a different profession. She's leaving a job that she loves and you can really see that in her classroom."
The announcement comes as school board members consider a proposed budget requesting $39 million more from county commissioners. Most of that money would support a 3.5 percent pay increase for teachers and staff.
The proposed budget is part of Wake schools Superintendent Jim Merrill’s plan to, by 2020, increase per pupil spending by $400 and raise teacher salaries to the national average. Wake schools’ average teacher salary is $45,512 while the national average is $56,383, the district said.
"We are not just begging the government for more money, we are talking about a critical shortage of teachers and a lack of respect for the profession of teachers," school board vice-chairman Tom Benton said.
The pay increase, if approved, may be too late for Gallagher.
"I don't wanna leave this profession, but there is not much motivation to stay," he said.