Turnover in SAD 68 staff prompts concern

Posted June 23, 2011, at 7:22 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A SAD 68 resident expressed concern Tuesday about the exodus of experienced teachers, but school officials said the resignations and retirements are not unusual.

Dover-Foxcroft resident Lisa Laser said she was concerned about the loss of longtime teachers in the district and wondered if something in particular was behind the resignations and retirements.

“It seems there’s a lot of talk in other districts about this district being not user-friendly to teachers, faculty and staff, I’m concerned about that,” Laser said at a meeting of the SAD 68 board of directors.

Resident Jane Conroy had inquired at an earlier board meeting about the resignations and had asked for a comparison of resignations over the years.

Superintendent Alan Smith said in 2008-2009, the year before he arrived, the district had four retirements, 11 teacher resignations, a guidance resignation and two administrators who resigned, for a total of 18 who left the district.

In 2009-2010, Smith said a guidance counselor retired, six teachers resigned after five of the jobs were eliminated through budget cuts, and one administrator resigned, for a total of 13 who left the district.

In the past year, there have been six retirements and five teacher resignations for a total of 11 people, according to Smith.

Laser, who also expressed concern about the art program, said it seemed that a lot of experienced teachers are leaving the district and are being replaced by first-year teachers. She wondered if the move was budget-related.

Smith said when he budgets for a new position, he does so on the high end in hopes of attracting experienced people. Some of the recent hires do have considerable experience, he added. He suggested that changes in state laws could be behind the decisions by some to retire or resign. There are some new rules in place, he said, that helped people make decisions that they probably would not have made a year or two ago.

Board Chairman Rick Johnson noted that the district must have a pretty good reputation because of the pool of quality candidates it drew to fill the vacant positions. Nine of the new teachers hired for the 2011-2012 school year were introduced Tuesday.

Johnson said they all had excellent resumes and came highly recommended.

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