Nevada, facing a shortage, struggles to keep teachers

Sara Boucher vividly remembers her first year of teaching in the Clark County School District five years ago. She was 22, fresh out of college, and had no idea what she was doing.

“I would stay every night until 7 or 8,” she said of her time at Schorr Elementary. “And then every weekend, I would have to go in. There was just so much to be done.”

There was a lot of crying, Boucher said. Her migraines were so bad that she went to see a neurologist.

“I was a baby still, so it was very, very, very stressful,” she said. “A lot of pizza and soda. Lots of Mountain Dew to keep me up.”

Boucher made it through the first five years. Beyond that, research shows, 40 percent to 50 percent of new teachers will leave the profession.

Now, she’s decided to leave and plans to move to New Mexico, where her boyfriend is working toward his doctorate. Her decision illustrates one of many reasons teachers may leave a school district.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal analysis of teacher turnover data found that 16 percent of teachers who began in the Clark County School District in 2015-16 left within one year or less.

That falls in the midrange of the same data for 10 other school districts in the state, which had turnover rates ranging from 9.5 percent to 33.9 percent for that same year.

After three years, the turnover rate increases significantly; 29.5 percent of those who started in 2012-13 had left Clark County.

Amid the overwhelming burden of addressing Nevada’s teacher shortage, the data point to an even larger challenge for districts: how to retain the teachers they try so hard to recruit.

“Clark County is sort of famous for having these recruitment efforts all over (the country),” said Richard Ingersoll, a University of Pennsylvania professor whose research includes teacher turnover. “But you have to ask, ‘Well, do you retain these people? Do you keep them?’ ”

Teacher retention rates in Nevada (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

DRAWING TEACHERS IN

In Clark County, retention efforts start as soon as someone is hired, said Meg Nigro, executive director of recruitment and development.

Over the summer, new hires are connected with a fellow teacher to answer questions about working and living in Las Vegas, Nigro said. The district also offers social activities before the school year starts and throughout the year: hosting hikes at Red Rock, a day at the Mob Museum and more.

“We try to really ease those kinds of social anxieties,” she said. “As humans, it’s the basic needs that we’re worried about first that have to be satisfied. If I’m paranoid, I don’t know anybody in this town, how am I going to get started?”

Clark County’s one-year turnover rate of 16 percent is higher than a similar 2015 statistic from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Nationwide, the center found that only 10 percent of teachers who began in 2007-08 were not teaching the following year. After three years, that number rose to 15 percent.

Yet those national data examine beginning teachers who left teaching entirely the following year. Those who left Nevada’s school districts may not be beginners and may still be teaching elsewhere.

The 11 districts that provided data also may count teacher departures differently, depending on when they started in the school year or other factors. The data may include teachers who retired or whose positions were eliminated.

Ingersoll, whose research includes the five-year turnover dilemma, said teacher salaries are not the only factor for turnover.

Student discipline also can play a role.

“Some schools do a much better job of dealing with their student behavioral challenges, and some don’t,” he said. “And those that don’t have far higher teacher quit rates.”

BEYOND LAS VEGAS

The challenge of keeping teachers isn’t unique to Clark County. Districts statewide can find themselves caught in a churn of turnover that further exacerbates their ability to fill vacancies and address staff stability.

“I think that people in Nevada are definitely worried about their retention rates,” said Ruben Murillo, president of the Nevada State Education Association.

Teachers will leave if they don’t think they’re getting enough support in their job, he said. The strains of testing, he added, can also play a role.

“I think there’s a whole mix of issues there that are preventing teachers from staying,” he said. “A lot of them get fed up, they decide ‘this isn’t for me,’ or they decide this isn’t a career they want to pursue for 15, 20 years or more.”

Jose Delfin, associate superintendent of human resources in the Carson City School District, strives to keep new out-of-state teachers for three years.

“If we don’t retain them past three years, they’re going to follow their heart back home,” he said. “If I can get them here for three years and stick, and get them to the fourth or fifth year, they’re here to stay.”

In Northern Nevada, he said, there is more of an exchange of teachers between districts.

“For instance, Carson City doesn’t have as many apartments as Reno, so a lot of our staff live in Reno,” he said. “So as soon as they can find a job in Reno, they go.”

Delfin, a former Clark County School District administrator, said Carson City’s higher cost of living and lack of affordable housing may factor in the district’s attrition rates.

Yet the district increased its starting salary to $40,000 with the hope of attracting more teachers, Delfin said.

“Retention for us means that we’re doing everything we can to support teachers,” he said. “And that means from the time that they’re in the classroom we give them as much help with curriculum, with resources they need.”

But in Las Vegas, he noted, other personal dynamics are in play.

“My own theory about Vegas is they’re young, they’re energetic, they get their feet in the door in Vegas,” he said. “And then they miss something that’s greener, they miss home — and then they bolt.”

STATEWIDE EFFORTS

At the state level, Assembly Bill 77, up for debate this legislative session, would make it easier for educators to teach in subject areas beyond their original expertise.

The establishment of the Great Teaching and Leading Fund, which boosts professional and leadership development, may also help in retaining educators.

“We know that a big factor in whether or not teachers stay is the opportunity that they have for leadership,” said Dena Durish, the state’s deputy superintendent of Educator Effectiveness and Family Engagement.

But on a more focused level, Durish questioned the turnover rates for more challenging schools.

“At the state level, we’re focused on retention of teachers in schools where there’s a high population of students in poverty, students with a second language and minority students,” she said.

Looking back, Boucher said all the stress was worth it. She has a strong message for new teachers: Persevere.

“You know what, my first year sucked,” she said. “The first year is your worst year. And your second year might not be that great. But just stick it out.”

She thinks back to why she became a teacher, and it wasn’t for the money.

“You don’t get into teaching if you want to work a normal 9-to-5 job, because that isn’t teaching,” she said. “But if you love kids and you love making a difference, then stick with it.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like