Edinburgh race focus on teacher turnover

Teachers aren’t sticking around in Edinburgh schools, and that is a concern for four candidates running for the school board.

The candidates — two incumbents and two challengers running for two seats on the board that represent the town of Edinburgh — agree that the turnover rate for teachers is too high, but they’ve provided differing answers for how it needs to be addressed.

The problem the school district faces is raises for teachers are partially tied to how students perform in annual standardized testing. Those scores have been lower than school officials would like in recent years, which has led to challenges with giving raises to teachers.

The result is that it has been several years since teachers have had raises, candidate Bill Jones said.

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The only way the school is going to keep teachers is if it can pay them appropriately, and the surest route to getting the raises comes through improving test scores, he said.

“We’ve lost several teachers,” said candidate Curtis Rooks. “I don’t know why. We need to keep the good ones we have.”

Rooks cited pay as a potential issue, but said he has more questions than answers to this challenge since he isn’t a school board member yet.

The school doesn’t have a problem hiring quality teachers, said board member Cathy Hamm.

Because of the impact the standardized tests have on raises, teachers need to place a larger emphasis on reviewing material, board member Alice Nancy Taulman said.

As a former math teacher, Taulman said the best way for scores to be improved is through ensuring old material is consistently reviewed throughout the school year.

“I’m not sure what can be done besides teach the subject and look at the standards,” Taulman said.

But extra study shouldn’t come at the expense of other much-needed activities, such as exercise, Jones said.

Last year, middle school students had to give up a free period on Fridays to do extra studying, he said. Exercise is an essential part of the school day and shouldn’t be cut, Jones said.

When it comes to funding, smaller schools seem to be at a disadvantage, Taulman said. Funding is tight overall for a school district that doesn’t have many frills, she said.

“We are at the bare minimum,” Taulman said.

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About the job

Pay: $2,000 salary, $50 for any special meetings

Duties: Attend school board meetings, review the superintendent, approve school contracts

Term: 4 years

Area represented: Town of Edinburgh within school district

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Look inside today’s paper for how the candidates for school board answered questions about the top issues the school district is facing.

Visit dailyjournal.net for more questions and answers with the candidates.