Highland Park High School Leader Flinnoia Hall talks about turnover at the charter public school district.
In December, Michigan Radio reported that one out of four teachers at one of Michigan's charter public school districts had already quit. Reporter Lindsey Smith spoke with former teachers, administrators and students, all who were frustrated with the lack of continuity.
Smith's four-part series on the Muskegon Heights district, which is being run by charter school operator Mosaica Education, showed a new and struggling district. But, though Highland Park Renaissance Academy has its own struggles, turnover looks different at Michigan's other new charter public school district.
According to Superintendent Pamela Williams, staff turnover has been less than 10 percent at all three of HPRA's schools. The high school reports a turnover rate of 9.8 percent, Barber reports a rate of 6.7 percent and Henry Ford reports a rate of 3.3 percent.
Many teachers on staff at HPRA schools are former Highland Park School District teachers. At Barber, School Leader Carmen Willingham estimates that about a third of teachers stayed on from the old district.
Before the start of the school year, some teachers left HPRA for higher-paid positions at other schools, according to Williams, which elevated this year's turnover numbers.
Flinnoia Hall, school leader at the high school, said that there has been some staff turnover, due to a number of factors, including performance. Hall said that it doesn't take too long to know if a teacher is, in his words, "on board for this particular mission."
Highland Park students have said in interviews with the Mackinac Center that this year teachers are more focused and that students don't have to sit in combined classrooms when teachers don't show up.
It's tough making decisions to let go of teachers, Hall said, because "you're talking about people's livelihoods, you're talking about jobs." But, he continued, "at the end of the day, we're responsible to our kids."
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