Nooo! Another SLP has decided to leave your school district! If you’ve been a special ed administrator for any amount of time, you probably know this feeling. This means you also know the value of retaining SLPs when you find them. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, on average, it costs 20% of an employee’s salary to replace them with a new hire. Not to mention
. . . the headache of advertising, screening, and interviewing potential new employees.
. . . the time-consuming process of on-boarding and training a new staff member.
. . . the lost productivity as the new employee gets up to speed.
. . . the potential for lost engagement from other staff members as they see the high turnover and lose interest or start looking to get out themselves.
It’s much better financially as well as culturally to retain the great employees you have on your staff instead of trying to replace them with new hires. Retaining your staff makes the beginning of the year start-up go more smoothly, resulting in services to students starting sooner. This then results in happier parents, teachers, and students. Listed below are six benefits you can offer your SLPs that are highly likely to help your special education department be a place that SLPs want to stay, year after year.
- Lower Caseloads and Workloads – Spend some time exploring the American Speech-Language Hearing Association caseload and workload resources and their 2022 State-by-State Caseload Guidance. Read the 2022 Schools Survey Report and notice that the nationwide caseload average is 48. How close are you to that target?
- Clerical/Scheduling Support – Some districts have assistants or clerks who help lighten the load of case managing. They can help schedule IEP meetings, assist with compliance, and manage to disseminate and filing for the SLP. Often, one clerk is shared among 2-4 SLPs.
- Technology Upgrades – Make sure that you are providing SLPs with the technology upgrades the rest of the school staff receives. SLPs are often overlooked when teachers are given iPads, new laptops, SMART boards, etc.
- Office Space – No, I’m not referring to Mike Judge’s hilarious 90’s office comedy. I am talking about an actual office with enough room for the SLP to store materials, stay organized, and conduct services. Bonus points if said office has a window, has heat, is cleaned by the custodial staff every day, has never been used as a storage closet, and allows intercom announcements to be heard. Often, SLP offices do not have all of these features.
- Support with Referrals – Take the time to sit down and ask your SLP what makes an appropriate referral. Believe it or not, some administrators are unaware of their district’s eligibility criteria for communication services and cannot back up an SLP who has to tell a teacher a referral is inappropriate.
- Assistance in Meetings – There are many things you can do when you attend an IEP meeting as a district representative that will help show that you are interested, supportive, and dedicated to reducing workload. Offer to take meeting minutes, to follow up with parents or other service providers, to make copies, to pre-meet or debrief afterward, or just bring a good attitude and a bag of candy. It all helps.
We hope these tips are helpful as you work to retain your staff for next year! We know consistency and familiarity are key to the student’s growth. In the unfortunate case that you are unable to retain your SLP feel free to reach out to chat. Our wonderful team of specialists has many years of experience making a smooth transition into a new school and we’re always here to help.
This post was originally published 1/26/17 and most recently updated 3/15/23