The Collier County School District is beating several national metrics when it comes to hiring and retaining teachers.
The district’s annual turnover rate over last six years has been 9.5 percent, nearly half of the national average
But there are serious challenges with retaining new teachers, especially in Immokalee.
Ian Dean, the district’s head of human resources, presented the district’s teacher hiring and retention data on Tuesday.
20 percent of the teachers in the four Immokalee schools, Highlands and Lake Trafford Elementary, Immokalee Middle, and Immokalee High School, are first year teachers.
“This is so glaring of an issue, we need to look at this exact same number next year and try and close that gap,” board member Erika Donalds said. “When you talk about achievement gaps, it goes back to this right here. This is the gap we need to be looking at because we can do something about it.”
Teachers in Collier County Public Schools make $41,280 in their first year, second highest in the state behind only Sarasota County. Those teaching in Immokalee or Everglades City receive an extra $820 per year.
“It’s not close to being enough, $800 for Immokalee. We have to change that,” Donalds said, adding the district and the district’s teachers union need to work together to address “We need buy-in from teachers and the teacher’s union when we negotiate the contract to make sure we can compensate teachers enough so we can close this gap. So [new hires are] spread away from the high-needs schools who can benefit from veteran teachers.”
A plan which has been successful for the district involves affiliate programs with universities around the nation. CCPS has 18 colleges and universities under some kind of affiliate deal. One, with Central Michigan University, brings interns down each year to work in the Immokalee schools.
“We hire almost every intern, almost every intern commits to here and stays,” Dean said. “They get to experience Immokalee while they’re here, they fall in love with the area, fall in love with the students and it’s a successful model.”
Dean added a similar program is in the works with Cabrini University in Pennsylvania, which is currently bringing interns to the district’s schools to get hands-on experience, a program which they hope in expand in the coming years.
BY THE NUMBERS
Average annual retention rates
Collier Schools: 90.45%
District retention data
Teachers hired in 2015-16: 73%
Teachers hired in 2013-14: 54%
Makeup of New Teachers in District Schools
Title I Schools(excluding Immokalee): 12.93%
All other schools: 6.55%
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