OAKLAND — Liz Jameyson said she felt a deep commitment to the Oakland public schools when she took a teaching job at a small high school in East Oakland. Two years later, she is out the door.

Jameyson has decided to teach at a West Oakland charter school instead. There, she says, the principal is more accessible, instructional "coaches" regularly visit classrooms to give teaching support, and the pay is better.

During her time at Castlemont's Leadership Preparatory High School, Jameyson said, she often felt like she was on her own.

"I think I observed one other teacher twice. That's not enough to really grow."

It was a professional decision, she said.

"It's not like I was horribly unhappy with my job at Leadership. It was just time for me to go."

Jameyson is one of some 300 teachers the Oakland school district is expecting to replace this year. About 14 percent of the district's classroom teachers have left each year, forcing the school district to spend millions of its funds to recruit, hire and train their replacements.

The problem is not unique to Oakland. Nationwide, teacher turnover costs schools more than $7 billion a year, according to a study released Wednesday by a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

To calculate the figures, researchers analyzed the actual costs of recruiting, hiring and training new teachers in five very different school districts across the country. They found that Milwaukee and Chicago spent $15,325 and $17,872, respectively, to replace each teacher.

If the per-teacher hiring costs of those districts applied to Oakland, as the researchers suggest, that would amount to $4.6 million to $5.4 million a year. (The study lists a $12 million turnover price tag for the Oaklandfrom Metro 1

schools, but that calculation doesn't appear to reflect the most recent data.)

The study makes the case for investing resources in new teacher training and support and in data systems that would allow districts to track which of their schools are seeing the greatest exodus.

Those suggestions appeal to at least two people trying to find ways to stabilize the Oakland teaching force: Jack Gerson, a union leader and math teacher at Leadership Preparatory High School at Castlemont, and Laura Moran, the Oakland school district's chief services officer.

By Gerson's count, the small schools at Castlemont are losing at least 20 teachers of a combined staff of about 60. The annual exodus makes it difficult for the remaining staff to sustain much of anything, he said.

Moran said school leaders already know what causes so many teachers to leave the Oakland school system: lack of principal support, poor experiences with the central office, safety and disciplinary problems and low wages.

They also have a good idea of what would help new teachers feel successful, including an extra preparation period, instructional coaches and an opportunity to "team teach" with a more experienced teacher.

Now, Moran said, it's a matter of finding the money.

"It would probably cost us millions of dollars a year to reverse that trend," she said. "I think that's what we're struggling with."

The full teacher turnover study, as well as a new Teacher Turnover Cost Calculator, can be found at http://www.nctaf.org.