WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Teacher resignations have continued to grow amid a nationwide teacher shortage and ongoing efforts to improve support in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.
"This year, we're seeing numbers that are alarming. They're more than what we wouldn't normally have as turnover at this point," said Deidre Roemer, director of leadership and learning in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.
According to Roemer, in the 2019-2020 school year the district had 95 resignations. The following year it was 63, which was a positive change. However, this year the district has 118 resignations.
One of the reasons people are leaving is compensation, which varies across Wisconsin, Roemer said.
"To address that this year we were able to do the full 4.7% CPI increase. We've offered our teachers a $1,000 retention bonus. If it's new teachers coming in and some high needs areas, they get a signing bonus," Roemer said.
She added that they managed to avoid raising insurance rates despite those costs getting more expensive for the district.
Yet, Roemer said there is still a gap between here and neighboring districts.
Plus, they are seeing the largest number of teachers leaving education altogether. Mental health is a common concern. The last two years of working through the pandemic and trying to support kids' significant needs have been tough.
"We're dedicated to trying to do whatever we can to meet the needs of students and staff and that's important. I want the greater community also to know that some of the pressure that's been put on teachers in the last couple of years has taken its toll," Roemer said.
Roemer, a teacher herself at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, remains optimistic about fulfilling positions this fall thanks to a program that can bring in new hires. However, she is worried that some positions will be hard to fill.