Nassau School Board seeks answers on teacher retention amid shortage

By Wes Wolffe
May 16, 2022

A workshop is set for May 26.

It’s not getting easier to afford Nassau County living for young professionals, so the Nassau County School Board is looking at how to keep the teachers they have from leaving amid a teacher shortage crisis and rapid county development.

“I’ll say again, our quality will begin to suffer, not being able to fill positions,” Nassau County School District Superintendent Kathy Burns said at Thursday night’s Board meeting.

The Board scheduled a workshop for two hours before the members’ next meeting to work out the kinks in the proposed millage resolution. The packet of documents shared with the Board, related to the millage discussion, was not included in the online agenda.

“You’ll see some of the items outlined here are the teacher shortage,” Burns said. “Along with that, I just want you to know I did collect some information starting today on some of the resignations and the reasons, and some vacancies that we have.”

The document also addresses the change in the salary schedule per Gov. Ron DeSantis’ direction, and the district’s arts and athletics programs that aren’t funded.

“Our (school psychologist) Sarah Davis, who we recognized this evening, you probably already know that she’s leaving Southside (Elementary School) because she has a chance to work from home, and she has a new child, so that’s going to be a loss for us,” Burns said.

Board members are trying to narrow down retention issues that are in their power to address.

“In light of all these recent resignations today, and we may already do this, but do we have an exit survey?” Board member Lissa Braddock asked. She was told the district does in fact have one.

“I know this is nationwide, so it’s not only this county, but what is the No. 1 (issue)?,” Braddock responded.

Not every teacher who leaves chooses to fill out the exit survey, but for the ones who did, Burns had a list of their reasons.

“Today I’m not going to call out names (of teachers),” Burns said, “but I’m just going to give you — this is just from today’s agenda: moving, Georgia, working from home, taking a contracted position, Georgia, going to a charter school, Georgia, going to nursing school, going from a (teacher) to a (parent), making more money at Winn-Dixie.”

The teacher who left for the Winn-Dixie job didn’t do it for a corporate gig, Burns explained, but for one in the store.

“As you see in that resolution, it is a draft, and it addresses that because it’s a serious, critical issue,” Burns said.

The workshop is scheduled for May 26 at 4:30 p.m., before the regularly scheduled Board meeting at 6:30 p.m.

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Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
2 years ago

It says a lot about our state’s lack of priority about educating our children when a teacher can make more at Winn-Dixie in a non-management position than they can being in the classroom. The college I worked at experienced the same thing. Our highest priority candidates were hired and then they had to quit after one year because they could not afford to live anywhere in the area. Public education is one of the backbones of a strong society, but our Republican legislators want to weaponize it for their culture wars. Keeping funding low for public education, including funding for teacher salaries, is one way of doing that.