Johnston County is losing teachers to other school districts, especially neighboring Wake County.
This past school year, 106 teachers left their Johnston County classrooms, with almost half decamping for Wake County. The total pushed the teacher turnover rate to 13.46 percent, up from 12.5 percent the year before.
Still, last year’s turnover rate wasn’t the highest the schools have seen in recent years. In 2008, the rate was 14.5 percent.
Robin Little, chief personnel officer for the Johnsotn County Schools, attributed last year’s increase to an improving economy.
“We were expecting this,” she told the Johnston County Board of Education last week.
During the recession, teachers were reluctant to gamble on a job move, Little said. If the county they moved to was forced to lay off teachers, the newest hires would be the first to go.
“We felt teachers were uncomfortable moving to another (school district) because they’d be the low man on the totem pole,” Little said.
With the economy improving, teachers who had been sticking it out in Johnston got the nerve to move on, Little said. It doesn’t help that teachers in Wake earn more because that county pays a higher salary supplement.
“It underlines the need to change things to recruit new teachers and keep our teachers here,” Little said.
School board member Donna White noted that the teachers left before the school system raised the teacher supplement one percentage point for 2013-14.
Still, even with the supplement increase, Wake teachers earn more than their Johnston counterparts. And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, said Superintendent Ed Croom.
“I don’t think the resources will be there for a long time to match with Wake,” he said.
Wake County, of course, has teacher turnover; the rate last year was 12.1 percent. And so do counties that are similar in size to Johnston. Last year, the turnover rate in Union County was 14.35 percent; it was 14.8 percent in Alamance County.