Schools wise to heed interviews

Published 10:30 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019

Often when someone leaves a job, the exit process can get a bit awkward. It’s not always that way, but many times people leave because of pay, time commitment or other opportunities, and it can lead to difficult conversations.

The best companies use those conversations — and the information gleaned from them — to improve things or to take a long, hard look in the mirror at policies and regulations. The worst ignore the opinions of those leaving, unintersted in how to improve.

It’s clear that the Troup County School System is taking the former approach as opposed to the latter.

At Monday night’s school board work session, Chief Human Resources Officer Dennis Medders presented information from 47 exit interviews given to employees leaving the system. There have been more interviews given in recent weeks as well, with more likely still to come.

Much of the information from the surveys was positive. It was clear that most of the employees liked working for the school system and 19 of the 47 leaving, or approximately 40 percent of the total number, were just retiring. Most would recommend TCSS as a place to work to colleagues.

Of course, there was also other feedback, some of it less positive.

For instance, many of the employees leaving were in their first five years in the school system. That’s an unfortunate reality for the education profession as a whole. The Wall Street Journal wrote in December 2018 that teachers were leaving the profession at the highest rates on record, so it’s far from a Troup County School System problem. Each community must address this reality individually, and Troup County must find its own way to combat this trend.

There were several suggestions listed in the surveys, and Medders threw in a few others as well.

Duty-free lunch, where teachers would essentially be able to eat without having to supervise students, was discussed, as it came up often in the exit interviews. Other suggestions from Medders included providing gas cards for a young teacher until their first few paychecks arrived, or allowing wearing blue jeans once a week across the school system.

He also mentioned doing these types of surveys well before an employee leaves, just so they can get an idea of the positive and negative things happening.

We think those are good suggestions. It speaks volumes that Medders and the rest of the cabinet are discussing ways to improve things better for teachers, who often serve in a thankless job.

Finding a way to say ‘thank you’ a little more can only help improve the teacher retention rate.