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YUHSD sees nearly 6 percent increase in teacher retention

Yuma Union High School District had 84 percent of its certificated teachers return for 2019-2020, a 6 percent increase from the previous school year.

After nearly a decade of annually needing to replace 25 to 30 percent of its certificated staff, YUHSD saw that number decrease incrementally over the past three years. However, 84 percent of its 445 certificated teachers returned this August.

“I believe it is a combination of things,” YUHSD Executive Director of Human Resources Wanda Ellis said. “There was a 10 percent pay increase from 2018 to 2019, more money than ever paid out from Proposition 301 monies, and our work culture is improving across the district.

“We provide strong support systems and training for new teachers to help them be successful as well as ongoing support for existing teachers. Having dedicated Instructional Coaches at each campus gives another layer of support for teachers as well.”

Yuma High School math teacher Tish Malone, who is entering her 24th year in the district, said the pay and insurance offered by the district is part of it, but there is something more important.

“As far as I am concerned the kids in Yuma make it all worthwhile,” Malone said.

In the past three years, YUHSD has provided certificated staff members a 22 percent wage increase with at least 5 percent more coming prior to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Overall, the 27 percent increase includes the state of Arizona’s mandated 20 percent raise, while the district chipped in 7 percent more. Proposition 301 funds generated $9,400 in additional pay for certificated staff in 2018-2019.

The district also supports teachers with two full-time instructional coaches on each of its five comprehensive campuses and instructional leaders in each department to assist in collaborative improvement of teaching skills through professional learning communities.

Eric Patten