More than 20 Katherine teachers will be packing their bags and heading interstate at the end of the 2019 school term, following a tumultuous year of funding cuts.
The number is double that of last year, which saw eleven positions needing to be filled, and does not include two principals also departing.
While it cannot be confirmed the exodus is a direct response to the Northern Territory Government's contentious decision to cut $500,000 from rental subsidies, the Australian Education Union's Northern Territory branch president Jarvis Ryan said he knows of two teachers relocating because of the cuts.
"It is fair to say the impact (of subsidy cuts) is fairly muted to date and we might not see it until we find out principals are having difficulty recruiting next year," Mr Ryan said.
"We know the Department of Education had offered a compassionate transfer for those who wanted to leave as a result of the cuts, and so far we are aware of two people taking up that offer."
Mr Ryan said the union is concerned it will be more difficult for principals to recruit teachers moving forward, with one of the most alluring incentives now taken away.
"We have said all along, it is only $500,000 out of many millions and the government has decided to save a little bit of money and risk all sorts of problems down the line."
Schools in Katherine have fallen from being one of the most heavily incentivised locations to teach in the country, despite the highly transient nature of the region.
Katherine principals have now been left with the difficult task of hiring teachers for 2020 as fears switch to recruiting new teachers if rental subsidies are off limits.
"The agreement from the Department of Education was to process a relocation allowance for the next three years and then reassess," Mr Ryan said.
"As it stands, teachers in Katherine will receive no other recognition of their isolation, no remote allowance, no study points, even though teachers just an hour away in Barunga get a whole range of entitlements."
Relocation allowances are set out by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment each year.
The Department of Education announced in August it would double the relocation allowance for new teachers, who are set to receive up to $11,000 in the first year ($546 per fortnight for 20 weeks).
The allowance would be reduced to just 15 weeks in 2021 and 10 weeks in 2022.
"We have found Katherine has a fairly high number of permanent teachers and a relatively low turn over rate, with Katherine High being the exception," Mr Ryan said.
"Katherine High has a high proportion of contract teachers and issues with its budget make it difficult to make more teachers permanent."
He said the issue lies with regional schools like Katherine High offering specialist classes with a small cohort of teachers - budget challenges are inevitable.
"The department decided to grandfather the current arrangement allowing current teachers to continue to receive the subsidy," Mr Ryan said.
"The question that remains with eliminating the subsidy for new teachers is will there be a sufficient incentive with only a relocation allowance of $11,000 for next year.
"We are committed to keeping a close eye, if we feel problems emerging we will raise the alarm."
The Department of Education says it is aware of 14 teachers leaving from public schools, with "most" of the positions already filled.
"The department is not aware of any teachers leaving Katherine due to the changes of the Katherine Housing Subsidy," a government spokeswoman said.
Five teachers are also leaving St Joseph's Catholic College, as is the school's principal Denis Graham.
Katherine High School's principal Dan Murtas also resigned after just over a year in the notoriously difficult position.
"Unfortunately due to personal circumstances, my family and I need to be in Queensland close to family," Mr Murtas wrote in a letter to parents.
"This was an extremely difficult decision... In my time at Katherine High School we have made some great changes and progress to ensure our students are getting the best education possible.
"Even though I am leaving, I am putting plans in place to ensure the school remains in a good place when I leave.
"Recruitment is underway for my replacement and the Department of Education understands what Katherine High School needs in a principal."
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