The latest numbers from Knox County Schools draw a more complete picture of exactly how many educators plan to leave the district this year.
In the 2013-2014 schools year, the relationship between teachers and school administrators was, at times, tense. Rumors circulated about of a mass exodus of teachers planning to leave the school system. In May, 10News published a story analyzing the departures from KCS up to that point, as well as several years prior.
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This month, the district gave updated numbers to reflect those educators who decided to either retire or resign through the end of the summer. The numbers represent certified personnel, which includes teachers, librarians, and guidance counselors.
"I definitely see an upward trend in the number of resignations," said Lauren Hopson, a Knox County teacher. "There are more resignations this year than there have been in recent history, and I think that's very telling about the climate in our school system."
Hopson continued, "In the last five years, we have new leadership [in the district] and those number have gone up drastically in the last five years."
Educator and state representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) agreed with Hopson's notes, and pointed to changes in student testing and teacher evaluations as other sources of conflict.
"We are seeing people eligible to retire in greater numbers, but [also] people just leaving the profession," Johnson said. "I got so many letters from people who were just leaving, and had only been there 10 years."
Hopson said, although the numbers show departures, there's more to their meaning.
"The numbers don't always tell the whole story. They don't tell the story of teachers who have transferred out of schools due to problems with their administration. They' don't tell the story of teacher who would leave Knox County if they were able to, based on personal circumstances."
KCS Superintendent, Dr. Jim McIntyre released the following statement by email:
"It has been a very routine year for teacher retirements and resignations. In fact, the overall number of teachers leaving has actually decreased from last year. I have heard a lot of appreciation from our teachers for the actions we have taken to better support them, and a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about the upcoming school year."
Hopson and Johnson are also looking forward as the new school year begins.
"I hope that we will start to see a lot of changes in our school climate," Hopson said. "I hope the administration will work on trying to increase teacher morale and that those numbers of resignations will go down."
Johnson added, "My hope is that we'll have a lot of great conversations about how to make sure w'ere supporting teachers, and also make sure we're moving our students forward."