Survey reveals low salaries among reasons for teacher turnover

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Survey reveals low salaries among reasons for teacher turnover

The School Administrators of South Dakota recently released results from a survey that revealed districts were losing highly qualified teachers due to low salaries and different positions.


Receiving responses from 90 percent of S.D. school districts, more than half of those who responded to cited salary, relocation – many to districts in other states – or a change in profession as reasons given by teachers who left the district. Seventy-three districts reported losing a teacher between June and August with half of the respondents losing one to five teachers after June 1st.


Download survey results here.


“It’s a troubling trend, but, it’s not a surprise,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said of the survey results. “Finding and retaining teachers is getting more difficult because our districts cannot compete with the salaries offered in neighboring states or the private sector.”


Similar responses were also found in the applicant pool, as many districts cited low salary as the reason given for offers being declined. More than half of districts also reported receiving four or fewer applications for open teaching positions.


“Districts used to receive many qualified applicants for open positions,” SASD Executive Director Rob Monson said. “We’re losing the quality teachers we have and don’t have the abundance of candidates in the applicant pool to replace them we once had.”


The results of this month’s survey are somewhat encouraging considering a study completed by SASD in May reported nearly 30 percent of the open teaching positions at the end of the last school year had not been filled – a time when positions are traditionally filled.


Some districts were forced to rearrange current staff, hire long or short-term substitutes or utilize student teachers to do so, which Monson noted is not an ideal educate students.


“The teacher shortage is creating a ‘by any means necessary’ mentality in our districts,” Pogany said.


Non-traditional methods, including offering bonuses, moving expenses, paying off loans and paying liquidated damages, were utilized by many schools to attract teachers.


“School boards are doing what they have to right now and our districts are continuing to produce great results that exceed the investment they’re receiving,” Pogany said. “That will change though without a significant investment in the near future.”


“Our districts, legislators and the administration needs to work together to find a solution for the shortage or we’re going to find ourselves in situation where the education our students receive suffers.”


Pogany, Monson and Mitch Ricther of the South Dakota United School Association recently presented a starting point for the conversation on improving teacher salaries when they introduced the Teacher Salary Enhancement Fund (TSEF) to the Legislative Planning Committee at their September meeting.


TSEF dollars would provide funding for districts to enhance teacher pay in their district through a proposed additional penny increase from June-August to the state’s sales tax, which is estimated to generate $40 million annually, or $4,000 per teacher.


Read more about the proposal here.


“Solving the teacher shortage is a long-term discussion,” Pogany said. “The TSEF proposal is a start to the conversation on improving teacher pay and hopefully in the future we can come to an agreement that will help us avoid seeing results like what’s shown in this survey.”

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