Aspen School District turnover still to be determined |

Aspen School District turnover still to be determined

At least 20 staff don’t plan to return; another 20 still uncertain

An Aspen School District bus parked in front of Aspen Middle School on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

About three weeks ago, Aspen School District human resources director Amy Littlejohn projected the district could see a turnover rate between 15% and 24% among the district’s certified staff. Approximately 10% of certified staff had already indicated they did not intend to return for the 2022-23 school year by the time Littlejohn spoke during the superintendent’s update as part of a Feb. 23 Board of Education meeting

That 15% to 24% projected turnover rate meant the district could need to fill around 20 to 35 certified positions (like teachers, counselors and speech therapists) for next year; the count didn’t include classified staff like paraprofessionals, office workers and bus drivers.

Now, the district is starting to get a firmer sense — though not an entirely complete one just yet — of how many of its 263 employee plan to resign, retire or take a leave of absence or sabbatical.

As of March 11, 20 district employees had indicated they do not intend to return for the 2022-23 school year or have recently resigned, according to data provided last week from Littlejohn and district communications specialist Kiki Lavine.

That count includes three recent departures that are now vacant positions. The district has “backfilled” other vacancies caused by early departures, and Lavine and Littlejohn wrote in an email that they “do not anticipate additional turnover in those” before the 2022-23 school year. Another 20 employees are still unsure whether they will return, Littlejohn confirmed in a follow-up email.

The deadline for staff to submit an “intent to return” form indicating whether they will return to the position for the 2022-23 school year was March 1.

But the district does not currently have a conclusive number on overall turnover because the form was only sent to staff who work nine or 10 months out of the calendar year, not year-round employees, and not everyone has confirmed their plans yet.

A total of 159 staff responded to the intent-to-return form. Littlejohn and Lavine anticipate the total number of departures will change by May or June.

Of the 20 staff who don’t intend to return next year, 15 are teachers or certified staff like counselors and speech therapists. In that cohort, nine are resigning, three are taking a leave of absence, one is taking a sabbatical and two are retiring.

Two administrators won’t return; one is resigning, one is taking a leave of absence. Three education support professionals (like preschool teachers, food service staff, transportation workers and other support roles) also are resigning.

The district does not know how many facilities support staff in custodial and maintenance departments will be returning; those employees work year round on an at-will basis.

By building, Aspen Middle School faces the most departures. So far, there are nine staff who do not plan to return for the 2022-23 school year; five are resigning, two are taking leaves of absence, one is taking a sabbatical, and one is returning.

Aspen Elementary School has four positions it will need to fill. Aspen High School has five positions not returning; four are resigning and one is taking a leave of absence.

The Cottage preschool and child care center has one staffer who has indicated they don’t plan to return so far. Likewise for the administrative offices; both departures are resignations.

The district anticipates some vacancies to shift around as employees transfer to other positions.

Among the staff who don’t plan to return next year, time spent working at the district varies. Four departing employees have been with the district for a year or less and five have been there for between two and five years. Another five departing employees have been there for six to 10 years. Three have worked there for 15 to 20 years and three have been with the district for more than two decades.

The district is currently focused on recruiting certified staff like teachers and counselors. The district is attending four job fairs at universities and educational organizations that are specific to that certified staff recruitment effort; the district also is attending general job fairs when possible.

“We will be posting out locally and nationally with equal effort as we put into job fairs,” said the email from Lavine and Littlejohn.

Recruitment for Education Support Professionals staff will take place later this year as it usually does in the months of May, June and July.

“We are also still making an effort to retain staff who have indicated they would like to resign,” Lavine and Littlejohn wrote.


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