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Racine Educators United (REU), the professional union representing Racine Unified School District (RUSD) teachers, educational assistants, psychologists, nurses and social workers, has issued a series of recommendations to help reduce staff turnover and “better meet the needs of students,” according to an REU news release.

The plan was presented at Monday’s RUSD Board of Education meeting by Angelina Cruz, REU president and a teacher.

“With over seven months of the school year remaining, teachers are sounding the alarm about the rising number of Racine teachers leaving for other districts or leaving the profession altogether,” the release stated.

“The most influential factor in academic outcomes are the individual teachers within a school,” Cruz told the board. She said teachers are ready to work together to solve the staff retention policy, laying out their recommendations to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the district.

The REU recommendations include:

Elementary Start Time. Return to an age-appropriate school start time for young learners to address concerns of families and teachers.

Fully-Staffed School Buildings. Do what is necessary to stop the turnover of teachers by implementing the following solutions:

  • Increase teacher planning time by decreasing the number of meetings required by administrators and cutting back on mandated after-school workshops that do not directly align with teachers’ daily practices.
  • Decrease standardized testing to make more time for learning and teaching.
  • Boost the number of frontline educators, including teachers, educational assistants, and substitute teachers to provide one-on-one attention to students by cutting the number of middle managers by 50 percent.

“Thousands of your employees respectfully ask that you implement these common-sense solutions with transparency and collaboration,” Cruz said.

RUSD Responds

Stacy Tapp, RUSD Chief of Communication and Community Engagement, acknowledged that RUSD – like almost every school district across the state – is facing challenges in filling staff positions, including educators, assistants, substitutes, bus drivers and food service workers.

“We are working to fill positions as quickly as possible. If the REU has innovative ideas for attracting employees, we are open to them. Additionally, we do offer a very competitive benefits package,” she said.

RUSD has 1,561 teachers. There have been 17 teacher vacancies so far in the 2021-22 school year compared with 12 vacancies during the 2020-21 school and 25 vacancies during the 2019-20 school year. The latter school year was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are closely monitoring it as we know that educators and school staff have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic facing a great deal of pressure,” Tapp said.

“I do want to emphasize that we are working to hire more staff as quickly as possible. We do talk with other districts to seek innovative strategies to attract and retain employees. But, we are all in the same position – there is a national workforce shortage.”

About Racine Educators United:

Racine Educators United brings together the Racine Education Association (REA) and the Racine Educational Assistants Association (REAA). The REA and REAA have a combined governance structure that forms the Racine Educators United. We use the term professional union because we are both a professional association and a union.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...