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School staff retention rate improving

COVINGTON - Students and staff members in the Newton County School System won't see as many new employee faces on the first day of school as they have in the past - most of this school year's certified staff is sticking around.

Dennis Carpenter, associate superintendent for Human Resources for NCSS, said Friday that 90 percent of 1,547 contracted employees in NCSS from the current school year should begin at in NCSS for the 2008-09 academic year.

"We have seen a 3 percent increase in the retention rate over the course of the last two school years," he said in an e-mail.

The retention rate at most schools are consistent from the past couple of years, he said, adding that Middle Ridge Elementary saw the greatest increase with 95 percent, compared to 82 percent at the beginning of this school year.

He said the greatest decrease in retention was seen at Alcovy High School, with 89 percent for the upcoming school year, compared to 99 percent for the 2007-08 school year.

"This slight decrease is not an alarming statistic because when you take into consideration the fact that Alcovy has grown from an instructional staff of 87 to 104 during this period of time," he said. "The Newton County Schools Human Resources Department calculates the retention percentage by taking the total number of signed and returned contracts for the upcoming school year and dividing this number by the total number of contracted employees for the current year."

He said the school system has started using exit interviews to gather more information from those employees who do leave the system.

"The NCSS Human Resources Department is in the process of analyzing this data to assist in the development of a quality systemwide plan for retaining effective teachers once they become a part of the Newton County School System," he said.

According to a press release from NCSS, 38 employees retired as of this school year.

In addition to employees resigning or retiring, the school system has added 60 new certified building-level positions for the upcoming school year - 53 teachers due to the opening of the new South Salem Elementary School and other program needs, one principal and media specialist at South Salem, two counselors at South Salem and Newton High School and three assistant principals at South Salem and Newton High School.

Also, Carpenter reported 68 transfers within the school system, including 38 to South Salem Elementary.

As of Friday, Carpenter said the schools are showing about 80 certified staff vacancies, but that number is likely to change as the beginning of the 2008-09 school year draws closer.

"This number will continue to decrease as recommendations are being submitted by principals and processed by the HR department daily," he said. "We are confident that Newton County Schools will begin the year with most, if not all, of our certified staff positions filled with highly effective, highly qualified teachers."

NCSS posts job openings on its Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org, and at the TeachGeorgia Web site, www.teachgeorgia.org, as well as holds job fairs throughout the year.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.