Joint budget meeting discuss high turnover rate at SMSD
By Karen Daniels
At the recent Stafford City Council and SMSD Board of Trustees’ joint budget meeting held on July 23, Dr. Robert Bostic, the new Superintendent who has been on the job 45 days (15 w/ students), spoke about the state of the school, specifically concerning the issue of high-turnover teacher rates. Currently the rate at SMSD is 23%. Many of these positions are senior staff members. Dr. Bostic said, “Most (teachers) have left for financial reasons” but these “challenges affect academics.” He explained, “Exit interviews don’t show (teachers) are leaving because they’re unhappy” but made clear that “research shows low scores relate to high turnover.”
Currently, principals are needed at the elementary and intermediate schools. SMSD is still in need of a CFO, needs an IT specialist, and Dr. Bostic is requesting new positions of Deputy Superintendent and an ESL Coordinator/Grant Writer. Dr. Bostic also stated that the Margaret Havens Library “is not where it needs to be.” Currently there is $500K remaining of bond money and can only be spent on bond approved items.
Recommendations suggested by Dr. Bostic are to re-evaluate the “objectives that were set five years ago.” A salary study will also be conducted so SMSD can align their resources properly and spend more effectively. Councilman Cecil Willis said, “We need a happy atmosphere” because it’s “impossible to keep up with the Joneses.” School Board President Etienne Zak explained that when superintendents leave, sometimes the pay increase is for $100K more, and for senior teachers the amount can be a $35-50K increase, “which is hard to turn down.” Trustee Ed Castillo stated, “This is a common problem for small districts.” Mayor Scarcella requested that a “survey analysis of the exit interviews” is carried out so they may “protect and learn who is on the bubble.”
At the end of the meeting, after discussing the pursuit of Stafford children who are not attending SMSD so that they can achieve diversity enhancements, the City of Stafford presented SMSD with a check for $7,172 for the Technical Library funds. This won’t put the library where it needs to be, but it’s a good place to start.
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