What teacher retention means to me | PostIndependent.com

What teacher retention means to me

In the 10 weeks since taking over as the editor of the Citizen Telegram I have written on a variety of subjects, but no issue has resonated with me more than teacher retention at the Garfield Re-2 School District.

It has been nearly a year and a half since I last attended class at school and yet when I hear about the district’s troubles with keeping teacher salaries competitive, I cannot help but think of my own experiences in school and how relationships I built with teachers changed my life.

I attended a private high school and university and despite the size of the city I lived in (I went to high school in Chicago and college at the University of Denver), the friendships I formed with my teachers over the years may even be responsible for me becoming a journalist. One such example of this is with my seventh and eighth grade writing teacher, who changed the way I look at storytelling and without whom I never would have become the writer I am today.

If my school at the time had to deal with the same problems facing Garfield Re-2, who knows whether that same teacher would have been able to stick around for my eighth grade year and beyond. I may never have developed the passion I have for writing that led me to Garfield County, which is why you may have noticed that it’s an issue I tend to circle back to whenever I discuss school board decisions.

Last week I wrote an article addressing the cause and effect of the school district’s recent property tax increase in which I wrote, “a possible solution to making teacher salaries more competitive would be to see if a mill levy could be passed as was the case in 2004 and 2006,” but I’d like to clarify those comments now.

At no time did the school board ever discuss a mill levy and in fact, the board doesn’t know how it will go about making teacher salaries more competitive. I wanted to show the big picture and how the property tax increase may affect the school board’s decision-making, particularly when it comes to making teacher salaries more competitive, but I don’t want confuse anyone by bringing up mill levies. My intention was not to try to throw darts at a chalkboard and see what sticks. Making teachers salaries more competitive will, as was confirmed at the last board meeting, be a top priority for the school district moving forward. It remains to be seen what that will look like, but I promise you, when it is discussed, you’ll be the first to know.

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