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The district and union agreed in the proposed contract to collaborate on incentives to attract and keep teachers in struggling schools. The proposed contract also lowers the class-size targets for these schools. District leaders say they hope that will attract more-experienced teachers.
Principals face the same issue
The union has argued that one strategy for improving struggling schools is for the district to stop placing inexperienced principals there. It said that teachers avoid struggling schools for several reasons, including ineffective leadership, lack of help with troubled students, and high staff and student turnover.
Melander, in her second year as a principal, feels keenly the inexperience of both her staff and herself. Seventeen of this year’s Laney teachers are in their first year in the building, and 31 of her teachers are probationary and seeking tenure.
She said she takes seriously who she hires, but called it a “travesty” that such high-needs students are taught by teachers still trying to get their teaching legs. “It’s the last group that should be tried out on,” she said.
Melander hasn’t filled out the district questionnaire that asks principals whether they prefer to stay or move next year, and said she’s been praying over whether she can continue to handle the toll of what she calls an emotionally charged job.
Meanwhile at Bethune, fourth-year Principal Melissa Jackson said only five of her 22 classroom and specialist teachers are tenured.
Despite the challenges, Jackson is hopeful the school can raise its teacher experience level with the right incentives.
“It’s hard to go deeper in our work when we’re always starting ground-level,” she said of staff turnover.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib