A hiring report from the Cherry Creek School District released this fall shows 17 percent of its 2014-15 new licensed staff came from the Douglas County School District — far more than from any other district. Most of those 90 staff members are …
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A hiring report from the Cherry Creek School District released this fall shows 17 percent of its 2014-15 new licensed staff came from the Douglas County School District — far more than from any other district. Most of those 90 staff members are teachers.
In Littleton Public Schools, 22 percent of the new teachers — 17 of 78 hired — are from Douglas County. For LPS, that number also represents the most hired from any single district.
It is the first year Cherry Creek has tracked such information.
“We don't have earlier data, so it's hard to say” if the DCSD figure is higher than normal, said Cherry Creek schools spokeswoman Tustin Amole. But she added Douglas County represented “by far the most of those that came from a single district.”
Cherry Creek hired 526 licensed staff members for the 2014-15 academic year; 172 were transfers. Of those, 90 came from Douglas County. The licensed staff includes teachers, nurses and mental health professionals.
Cherry's Creek's teacher turnover for 2014 was 11.7 percent, Littleton's was 9.5 percent, and Douglas County's 17.3 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Education. The state average was 16.7 percent.
In Cherry Creek, the average starting teacher salary is $47,950.
Douglas County School District uses salary bands that base compensation on market demand coupled with teacher ratings. The average starting salary for all bands is $40,500.
DCSD — which has seen a series of reform measures implemented in the past few years — acknowledges turnover, but disputes the state's number. In-district transfers and promotions along with a different staff count date put their 2014 calculation at 13.1 percent. Additionally, most of the district's best teachers remain, they note.
“While there has been and will be migration between districts, we are very pleased to be retaining 94 percent of our `highly effective' teachers and over 90 percent of our `effective' teachers,' ” DCSD chief human resources officer Brian Cesare wrote in an emailed statement.
School board president Kevin Larsen said Cherry's Creek's numbers do not surprise him.
“When you're in close proximity to another district, you're going to see some movement one way or the other,” he said. “We definitely know we've got a good number of new teachers that have come to us from Cherry Creek. It definitely goes both ways. I think we'd probably find similar numbers with any of our neighboring districts.
“Any time there's a lot of change, you're going to have some of that. To me, the key is, where does it break down? We have better retention on the most-effective end. I'm happy with that.”
DCSD does not presently have a detailed breakdown of where new staff members came from.
Amole said she does not know the specific reason for the high percentage of Douglas County recruits to Cherry Creek.
“There could be a number of reasons for that,” she said. “It could be that people have moved and they want to be closer to where they live. There could be childcare that's more available to them here. We don't know why.
“We have heard anecdotally for some time that we were getting teachers from Douglas County and some other school districts.”
Former Saddle Ranch Elementary School teacher Maria Lauer joined the Cherry Creek district staff in 2013. A special education teacher, Lauer said the teacher evaluations introduced by DCSD in 2012 were the last straw among a series of items that prompted her to seek employment elsewhere.
Lauer was among several teachers who left the Highlands Ranch school in 2013 after none of the teachers received a highly effective rating under the new evaluation system. Lauer, who has almost two decades of teaching experience, took a pay cut to go to Cherry Creek.
“The very first day (in Cherry Creek), they had a new-teacher orientation,” she said. “They had the union president, the superintendent and the board president all there working together. They said we respect our teachers and work together.
“I really miss my colleagues and the family relationships I had built at Saddle Ranch every day. But as far as being able to do my job and being treated like a professional, I'm much happier.”
Lauer said she is not alone.
“At just about every training I go to, I continue to see somebody else (from Douglas County),” she said. “We call ourselves the refugees.”
Ten percent of Cherry Creek's newly hired licensed staff members came from Denver Public Schools, 8 percent from Aurora Public Schools, 3 percent from Jefferson County, and 14 percent from other Colorado school districts. Twenty-one percent are from out of state.
Twelve percent are from within Cherry Creek School District; most are non-renewed probationary teachers.
In Littleton, 14 teachers came from Denver Public Schools, 9 from Jefferson County and 3 each from Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek.
Other school districts, including Boulder Valley, Jefferson County and Denver said they don't track the information.
Cherry Creek will continue to do so annually.
“We've always tracked who came from out of state, (which is) where we have the most success recruiting,” Amole said. “This year, we decided to track the ones coming from in-state to determine where we were competitive, and also where we weren't.
“We will do this going forward. Next year, we'll be able to see if we're seeing a trend.”
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