Over 350 Huntsville City School staff members resigned in 2022

The 2022 total is 100 more than the total in 2021
WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 1:12 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As the last day of school approaches for many students in Huntsville, the education system is grappling with an increased loss of educators over the past few years, exacerbating the problem. This shortage has prompted concerns about the quality of education and the well-being of both students and teachers.

In 2021, a Huntsville City school board member said the number of resignations reached a record level with 257 staff members resigning. 2022 data shows the numbers aren’t slowing down. The system saw 360 resignations in one calendar year.

Beverly Sims, the district director of the Alabama Education Association (AEA) emphasized that the teacher shortage was not exclusive to Huntsville City Schools but rather a pervasive issue statewide.

Sims has worked in the education industry for over ten years and cited two primary reasons for teachers leaving their positions. She highlighted the mounting stress levels among educators for a variety of reasons. First, she says students are becoming increasingly difficult to discipline. On top of that, teachers are genuinely concerned for their safety, fearing becoming targets of school shootings.

The workload for teachers has increased significantly due to the departure of education support professionals, such as aides. Simultaneously, while teachers endure low wages, their support staff faces even greater financial challenges.

“People often fail to understand that when you lose support employees, it adds more stress on teachers,” Sims explained. “Teachers don’t have the necessary assistance to handle the number of students in their classrooms. It takes a collective effort, and when the support system crumbles, the repercussions are felt by the teachers.”

Sims herself is retiring this week, expressing disappointment that she could have remained in the field for a few more years had these issues not arisen.

Andrea Alvarez, a School Board member for Huntsville City Schools, also voiced concerns regarding wages. Despite teachers in the district being among the highest-paid in the state, they continue to experience the same stress as their counterparts in other districts. Alvarez emphasized that education support professionals face particularly low wages, ranging from $11 to $15 per hour, prompting workers to explore alternative employment opportunities in Huntsville.

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting

“It’s highly advantageous for them to leave the education sector and join defense-related industries, which are heavily recruiting due to the abundance of job opportunities in Huntsville,” Alvarez said. “We’re not only competing against other educational institutions like Madison City and Madison County, but we’re also competing with all other sectors currently hiring in Huntsville.”

Despite these challenges, Alvarez remains optimistic about retention for the upcoming school year. She says there is 100% retention in two of the schools she presides over. Alvarez says teacher retention will be one of her main priorities in the search for the next superintendent.

Click Here to Subscribe on YouTube: Watch the latest WAFF 48 news, sports & weather videos on our YouTube channel!