HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – At a recent Huntsville City School Board work session, one school board member said the district is losing teachers at a record number. School board member Michelle Watkins cited student conduct and discipline as the reason for some teachers leaving.
At that work session on Tuesday, November 2, Watkins said, “And for anyone who doesn’t believe what I’m saying, pull our H.R. reports since school started and look at all the teachers that have left our district.”
So News 19 did.
We requested Human Resource reports that reflect: hirings, terminations, resignations, and retirements for district employees.
On Wednesday, Huntsville City Schools released documents to News 19 showing resignation and retirement data for November 5, 2020, through November 2, 2021.
According to Huntsville City Schools, over the 12 month period, there were 360 employees who retired or resigned. Employee’s reasons for leaving were not given in the 600-page document.
The report also stated that Superintendent Christie Finley recommended 338 new employees be hired.
Teachers tell News 19 they left because of their bosses, not the students. News 19 is protecting the identity of these teachers for fear of retaliation.
“Leadership breeds culture, so if Huntsville City Schools is looking at why they are losing so many teachers, I think they need to look at the top first,” says a former HCS teacher.
One teacher who no longer works in Huntsville says she and others tried to express concerns to district leadership but say they weren’t heard.
“Attempts made to make contact at the district level seemed to fall on deaf ears. Complaints were made, concerns were shared and nothing came of it,” she said.
“Its very much, they take care of their impression to the public while the insides are crumbling. I do believe it is a top down issue. Considering that administrators are appointed by the school board and their contracts are voted on by the school board,” says a different teacher who also resigned from HCS.
Over worked, underpaid, and not heard. That’s how several teachers tell news 19 they felt while working for Huntsville City Schools. Those teachers who have transferred to other districts say other districts have better work environments.
“The consistent reason why I’ve seen that turnover goes back to leadership. Leadership can decide how much work their faculty really has. In the district I’m in right now, I have a reasonable work-life balance,” says a teacher who left HCS.
News 19 requested similar information from Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools.
Madison County Schools provided data comparing the numbers from 2020 to 2021 for the three employee types- administrative, certified and support.
According to Madison County Schools, between August 2020 and June 2021, 93 employees retired, 176 resigned and they hired 410 new employees. Between July 2021 and October 2021, 10 employees retired, 110 resigned, and 434 new hires.
Madison City Schools said from April 1, 2020, to November 5, 2020, they had 94 employees resign, 42 retire and 175 new hires. From April 1, 2021, to November 4, 2021, there were 145 employees who resigned, 31 retired and 209 new hires.