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District sees spring spike in resignations and retirements

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Sabine Poux/KDLL

Forty teachers are handing in their resignations from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District this month, bringing the total number of retirements and resignations for certified staff to about 75 this school year.

That number is just a few more retirements and resignations than the district had last school year.

But with five months still left, teacher’s association president Nathan Erfurth worries there will be more coming down the pike, pushing the number of resignations higher than normal.

In general, he said, it’s a continuation of an ongoing problem — year after year, the district is losing too many teachers.

“There are a few people on there who were planning on retiring this year," he said. "There is always turnover. However, I think we could’ve kept quite a few of those people if we had taken stronger action to hold onto folks this school year.”

The school board signs off on a list of resignations at some board meetings.

At tonight’s meeting, it is scheduled to approve those 40 resignations from certified staff, a category that includes teachers and administrators, plus 15 resignations from support staff.

It’s typical that the district gets a spike in resignations in March, since that's when tenured staff have to sign their contracts or resign. The board usually receives another spike in April, when nontenured staff have to do the same.

In 2021, the district approved 15 resignations in March and 29 in April. The total for that year was 67, according to District Spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.

But this year, all contracts came out at the same time. So both tenured and nontenured staff have already returned their contracts and many of them have decided whether they’re leaving or staying.

Erkeneff said that could be why the number is so large this March.

“Whereas in the past, throughout the spring, depending on what was happening with budgets and everything else, those contracts might have been spread out a little bit more," Erkeneff said.

Erfurth said this won’t be the end of resignations. Teachers sometimes hand in letters of resignation even after they sign their contracts. And he said he’s heard from teachers that plan on resigning.

"I expect there still to be some more resignations that haven't been processed yet," Erfurth said. "It’s impossible to predict that until we see those final numbers.”

Teacher recruitment and retention have been challenges for districts across Alaska for a while. This year has been especially hard, Erfurth said, amid burnout from the pandemic and continued flat funding from the state, among a myriad other factors.

Now that the district, for the most part, knows who’s coming back and who’s not, Erkeneff said it will start posting more open teacher positions on its site. She said the district has a job fair in Anchorage this Friday, where it will scout candidates for a slew of open positions.

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