The majority of teachers in the Alpine School District feel overworked and don’t have enough time in the work day to carry out their responsibilities, according to a working conditions and climate survey conducted this spring.
The results give evidence to what the district has suspected.
“It was honestly pretty close to what we anticipated,” said John Patten, the assistant superintendent of educational services and K-12 for the Alpine School District. “It wasn’t much of a surprise that teachers feel overwhelmed and that they are taking a lot of work home.”
The survey, administered in March by Hanover Research, asked for employee opinions on topics from financial compensation, to training, to bullying. More than 4,200 employees responded, including about 3,000 teachers, leading to responses from about half of the district’s employees.
The survey found that about 90% of employees who answered stated they enjoy their job.
Of teachers who answered the survey, 65% said they felt overwhelmed at work, a rate about twice that of non-teachers.
About a third of teachers answered they have enough time in the work day to carry out their responsibilities — 58% answered they have a good work/life balance and 83% of teachers who answered said they bring work home with them.
About half of the teachers who answered said they were satisfied with their salary.
Fourteen percent of employees answered they’d been harassed or bullied for their political beliefs within the last year. Nine percent answered they’d been harassed or bullied for their sex, 10% reported being harassed or bullied for their physical appearance and 13% for their religion.
The survey results make four recommendations for the district — to support teachers to create a better work/life balance, to continue to offer professional development about technology use, to create anti-harassment initiatives about sex, physical appearance, religion and political beliefs and to provide clear messaging about the district’s “Vision for Learning” plan.
Patten said the survey is believed to be the first of its size and scope.
He said the district had the survey conducted to assure it is meeting the needs of employees and to have data available for when the district meets with employee associations to go through collective bargaining and negotiations.
The plan is to make the survey an annual event in order to monitor trends.
The Alpine School District Board of Education is already looking at ways to respond to the information revealed in the survey.
“Being confronted with the raw survey data, I think really had a pretty strong impact on leadership at the district,” Patten said.
Those future changes may include an adjustment to next year’s calendar that would include adding a half-day preparation day at the end of three terms.
“It really is such a small move, that is just a drop in the bucket, but I think ... if the board chooses to adopt those calendar options, it will be a huge gesture to teachers and they will be grateful for it,” Patten said.
Other measures include creating modules that will shorten the time it takes to do required training at the beginning of the school year on topics such as child abuse prevention and indicators for suicide.
Patten said the Alpine School District Board of Education is also anticipated to use $11 million from the state as part of the Teacher and Student Success Act to go toward measures such as adding five psychologists, six social workers, 14 elementary school counselors, 25 instructional coaches to the district, along with 6.5 board-certified analysts to help with behavior intervention
“Thanks to the TSSA, we will have some pretty significant resources we are infusing into the system that we feel will make an impact by this time next year,” Patten said.