Schools hiring nearly 80 new teachers |

Schools hiring nearly 80 new teachers

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – Teachers come and go. But do educators come and go any faster in Eagle County?The Eagle County School District this year will bring in 78 new teachers, or about 18 percent of the 2004-05 teaching corps. The district hired 73 new teachers for the 2004-05 school year.The job openings for the coming school year represent a combination of people. It includes a handful of new teaching jobs, as well as replacing those who have resigned or retired. It also includes teachers who weren’t re-hired for the next year.High school teacher George McCollum, who spent virtually all of his career at Eagle Valley High School, is taking his third shot at retirement. This time, “I just decided it was time to stop,” he said. While McCollum didn’t elaborate on why he again decided to retire, he did say the school district is a far different organization than it once was.”It’s not like it was in 1968, when (then-superintendent) Leonard Hammock would take the paychecks around to all the teachers so he could get to know them.”But another recently-retired teacher said the district’s Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP, played a role in his retirement.”I had three years left on my license,” said Ron Foss, who just retired from Gypsum Creek Middle School.Foss said TAP, which, in part, ties teachers’ pay raises to student performance on standardized tests and a series of evaluations during the school year, isn’t living up to some of its claims. The program is supposed to take a school’s best teachers to run group sessions and perform evaluations. Foss said that doesn’t always happen.”Sometimes the best teachers just want to keep teaching,” he said.Foss and McCollum are among a fairly large group of teachers who have retired in the past couple of years. That may be due to changes in the teachers’ retirement program as much as anything else. Changes are coming to the program that allow teachers to buy their way into full retirement benefits more cheaply now than after Nov. 1 of this year. Next year may see a wave of retirements, too, Boyd said. After that, she said, retirements may level off because the price of buying into those benefits may be prohibitive. “With the changes coming, if you’re close to retiring, it’s better to leave now,” said district spokeswoman Pam Holmes Boyd.With or without TAP, teachers in Eagle County don’t seem to change jobs in greater numbers than the state as a whole.A 2003 study done for the Colorado Department of Education found that districts around the state had turnover of roughly 22 percent. Turnover in Eagle County has been under 20 percent for the last two years.”I’m not concerned about it,” School Board Member Connie Kincaid-Strahan said. It’s not anything new. It’s not anything different than student mobility in the district.”While Eagle County had a number of jobs to fill for the 2005-06 school year, most of those positions have been filled, according to district personnel manager Trisha Thielke.”Even in some of the harder to fill positions, we have offers out to people,” Kincaid-Strahan said. “That makes me feel good.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or Hires*Total teachers (2004-05)Eagle County78420Garfield County80**227Routt County15180Montrose31377*Numbers won’t be final until August**Includes teachers for a new high schoolThe 78 new teachers in Eagle County this year will replace people who left for a variety of reasons.• 35 resigned• 6 retired• 13 weren’t offered contracts for the coming school year• 16 are new positions created by growth or paid for by grants Vail Colorado

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