Wood teacher retirements down; surge expected

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Schools has had fewer retirements so far this season, but one official worries most will come later this summer after a major retirement leaves the district’s human resources department short staffed.

Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of pupil and personnel services, said the district has 39 professional retirements, down from about 70 retirements and resignations last year.

But Harris, who is set to retire at the end of this month, said he expects more retirements and resignations will come after he has left. Many employees who are of retirement age wait to announce their retirements, either because they have not yet decided or because they begin the new school year and decide they don’t want to continue.

“I’m estimating we will have about 50 or more retirements before the summer ends,” Harris said.

At tonight’s Wood County Board of Education meeting, the board is expected to approve two more retirements and six resignations. Harris said all six resignations are due to family issues.

“Sometimes they have to take a resignation because they don’t have the years for retirement,” Harris said.

The school board tonight is expected to approve the hiring of a new deputy superintendent. The position was created by the school board at the request of incoming Superintendent John Flint as part of a central office reorganization plan.

Flint has told the school board the new deputy superintendent would oversee the district’s human resources department. The assistant superintendent position will cease to exist, with that salary being used to pay the deputy superintendent.

Harris said there are plans to create a director of human resources position, but Flint has said that will not happen until additional funding is identified, either through a new source of money or through funds freed up by retirements or the elimination of another position at the central office.

Harris said a coordinator of human resources position, designed to handle certifications and application software, was created by the school board earlier this year but never filled. Having two unfilled positions has created some unease in the department, Harris said.

“At this point I don’t see how it can be done without” the director position being filled, he said.

Flint said Monday he does not believe it will be a problem.

“I think with our deputy superintendent and the staff we will be able to keep on top of everything,” he said. “I think it will be a pretty smooth transition. We’re prepared for that.”

Flint also said he is not concerned with the number of retirements the district has seen over the years. Though many of the district’s most experienced teachers and administrators have either retired or are looking at retirement, Flint said he sees it as a trade off as the district brings in new, fresh-faced educators.

“I think you always have to be concerned about losing those very experienced professional educators,” he said. “While we hate to lose the experienced teacher, it also gives us the opportunity to expand the pool of talent with new teachers. It’s imperative that we train them well, because they have some big shoes to fill.”