Tipp City school board urged to find out why staff is leaving

ajc.com

A parent urged the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education to reach out to administrators and staff and find out why they are leaving the district.

Karen Kaibas approached the board at its March 22 meeting saying she was concerned as a parent and community volunteer that no one is talking about the loss of staff.

“We need you to go to our teachers, our administrators and say, ‘Hey, what is going on?’ You have to be creative problem solvers and not blamers. That is what I think the community is a little tired of,” Kaibas said. “We need people who are advocating for our schools, to keep them what we all moved here for.”

Kaibas said the board knows more about the behind the scenes within the schools than community members. “As a community member, I don’t know how to solve this problem, I don’t know how to reach out to them and say, ‘Please stay … You are valued here,’” Kaibas said.

Board member Simon Patry said he, too, was concerned.

“We have lost some pretty good teachers and administrators over the last 18 months. I would like to understand why. Maybe it has nothing to do with the district, maybe it does,” Patry said.

He asked if the district conducts employee exit interviews.

The board has talked about exit interviews for a few years, but has not implemented a program, said board President Theresa Dunaway.

There is no guarantee people are going to feel safe in an exit interview, said board member Joellen Heatherly. “It is one thing we can do … (but) is not a fix all,” she said. The board also has to invest in its administrators, including Superintendent Mark Stefanik, new to the district this year, and the new treasurer when they are hired, Heatherly said.

Dunaway agreed. “It is not OK to hire these people and not give them the foundation, the instruction … that seems to be missing,” she said.

Patry said he fears the district is losing quality people because they feel there is no job security and they are not valued.

“I feel that we have outstanding administrators, outstanding teachers and that you are …. very valued and, if there are issues, … let’s get to the bottom of them,” Patry said.

The district wants to minimize attrition, but the board needs data to tell it what is going on and not rely on speculation, said board member Anne Zakkour.

Board member Corine Doll agreed, saying the district needs to look at how it develops and grows its own leaders. “Valuing people and investing in our people matters,” she said.

During the past year the district has seen, among others, the retirement of Superintendent Gretta Kumpf and departures of Gary Pfister, business manager and Jim Sagona, IT director, and will see the retirement of Greg Southers, Middle School principal, and departures for other jobs of Dave Stevens, treasurer, and Chris Zink, high school principal, in coming months.

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