One in five DougCo teachers and substitutes leave district

Suzie Glassman

By Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) According to a Colorado Open Records request, 767 licensed teachers and substitutes will not return to their Douglas County classrooms next month. Nine principals, 14 assistant principals, and 10 district administrators also left.

While schools experience turnover yearly, many speculated that Douglas County teachers would leave the district in droves after the school board fired former superintendent Corey Wise in early February.

More than 1,000 teachers called in sick and hundreds marched outside DougCo school district headquarters in protest.

Kevin DiPasquale, president of Douglas County Federation, the union representing some teachers and staff in the Douglas County School District, warned a high percentage of staff might leave, according to a Denver7 news report.

Sid Rundle, former special education services officer, and Katie Kotaska, district chief financial officer, also turned in resignation letters in the days after Wise’s firing.

Turnover numbers include employees who left anytime during the 2021-2022 school year but do not provide insight as to why.

Teacher turnover through the years

The district had 3,664 PreK-12 teachers in 2022, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s unclear if licensed substitutes are included in the total. If so, this year’s turnover rate is 21%. If not, the turnover rate is in line with previous years.

The following are the Douglas County teacher turnover rates for the last decade, according to data from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). CDE includes permanent substitutes in these numbers.

  • 16.0% - 2021-2022
  • 13.7% - 2020-2021
  • 13.7% - 2019-2020
  • 13.8% - 2018-2019
  • 13.6% - 2017-2018
  • 19.0% - 2016-2017
  • 19.7% - 2015-2016
  • 16.7% - 2014-2015
  • 17.3% - 2013-2014
  • 13.3% - 2012-2013

The 2022 district turnover rate for all employees is 19%. According to the data, the turnover percentage excludes coaches, substitutes, seasonal, temporary, and employees on a one-year contract.

Pandemic fallout

Colorado’s teacher turnover rates aren’t published yet, but state and national experts believe more teachers are leaving the profession than in years past based on burnout caused by pandemic stress.

“Prior to the pandemic, schools lost about 16% of their teachers each year, according to federal data,” writes The 74, a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. “This year, multiple surveys point to scores of burned-out teachers who say they are planning to leave the field and anecdotal reports of mid-year departures.”

So far, reports of a potential mass exodus of teachers haven’t played out.

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