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Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools to lose more than 270 staff members next school year

Dom DeRosa
Posted at 4:53 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 12:12:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  — The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools district is bracing for a significant number of staff to leave at the end of this school year.

Dom DeRosa, president of the National Education Association for KCK, said in his more than 20 years in the district, he has never witnessed so many teachers leaving at once.

DeRosa said as of May 12, the number of people leaving the district is 48% higher than it was at the same time in 2021.

Two-hundred-thirty-eight staff are resigning and 33 are retiring. He believes those numbers will go up even more before the June 3 deadline for staff to announce they are leaving without being charged a fee.

DeRosa said while the COVID-19 pandemic plays a role, it is not the sole reason for so many staff members leaving.

"Most of it is that they're not feeling in the district that they're valued," DeRosa said.

He said teachers have expressed concerns in a recent survey about not feeling heard by district leaders.

"I think keeping the lines of communication between the district and the teachers is essential, the teachers have to be able to know they have a voice and that their voices are heard, not just hey we're at the table, but we have to be able to be part of the process," DeRosa said.

DeRosa said the number of teachers leaving will ultimately impact students because it will likely mean larger classroom sizes, which means more work for teachers who are not able to spend as much one-on-one time with students.

DeRosa also cites pay as a factor. He said due to rising costs of things like gas and groceries, staff members are worried about getting by and being able to feed their families.

Eric Tyler is the human resource recruiter for the district. He said the district is constantly evaluating pay.

"We actually have adjustments any time our new teacher negotiated agreements come out, and over the past couple of years our starting teaching salary has gone up in between $2,000 to $2,500 dollars," Tyler said.

When asked about the other concerns from teachers such as not feeling heard or valued, Tyler said the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on teachers and likely led to burn out.

He said the district has increased the number of instructional coaches to train and develop teachers and started early dismissal one day a week to combat burn out and give teachers time for planning.

Tyler said the district has also started taking more creative approaches to figure out staffing classrooms and recruiting and retaining teachers, such as allowing staff to do building transfers sooner if they are unhappy.