WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Jacqueline Lyons said that she is worried that DCPS isn’t keeping enough teachers in their classrooms.

“We’ve done our own research… of the 629 that we surveyed, 69 percent said that they’ve considered leaving,” Lyons said. “I was a teacher in Ward 8 for many years, they just don’t feel like they get the support they need.” 

“My understanding is that about ¾ of teachers return each year to the schools they’ve taught at in the past. Which is about average, maybe a little bit below average,” Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn said.

This week, community members will explore some of the issues teachers are facing, which may be impacting the retention rate.

“Teachers have been asking for more time to plan, especially because of what we’ve been through over the last three years. We need more time to prepare,” Lyons said.  “We also feel like, because of the competition out there, we have to keep up with benefits.”

“It’s critical that we continue to focus on teacher wellness, the pandemic has had a different set of challenges,” Kihn said.  “We’ve also got to ensure that teachers have really great working conditions.”

Lyons says one of the biggest challenges for the union is a new contract with the city. She’s hoping it will result in an increase in base pay, and more.

“We have to compete, so it’s not acceptable that we don’t have a contract,” she said.

The union has been trying to negotiate, but they were unable to reach an agreement with city leaders, which means an arbitrator will now have to decide for the two.

“DC Public Schools greatly values the contributions of all our teachers. We continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement. We are proud of the offer we have made to the Washington Teachers Union that includes robust compensation increases for educators. We will continue to work diligently toward providing stability for our educators with a finalized contract,” the Deputy Mayor of Education said in a statement.