LEANDER, Texas — As the first day of school approaches, Leander ISD (LISD) still has dozens of open teacher positions it is looking to fill.
As of Aug. 8, Leander ISD Executive Director of Talent Acquisition and Elementary Support Lisa Gibbs told KVUE there are around 80 vacancies for teachers and about 80 vacancies for instructional assistants. She said in her more than 30 years working in Leander ISD, she has never seen a shortage like this.
Gibbs said this teacher shortage is being seen throughout the country, with many teachers leaving the profession. In Leander ISD specifically, they have been adding students and losing teachers.
"So we're seeing an increase in students, and then we did have the biggest turnover we've had in a while," said Gibbs.
Leander ISD did raise teacher pay by 5% ahead of this school year to help compensate teachers but it still has many vacancies.
"So our biggest area is with special education teachers, so we are still looking for special education teachers," said Gibbs.
Gibbs said special education teachers are extremely important, which is why they have also been trying to fix this shortage internally.
“We have a 'Grow Your Own' program where we are paying for some of our instructional assistants who have a bachelor's degree to become certified special education teachers through an alternative certification program. And we've got about 15 to 20 of those so far," said Gibbs.
Until they get those teacher spots filled, they are having to adjust how they operate. Gibbs said curriculum specialists and special education specialists will be filling some teacher roles in classrooms. They are also having some retired teachers come back to be long term substitutes.
“So, like, we've got a teacher who resigned a while back and now she's going to teach 70% of the day. And then we have someone else who's going to teach the 30%. So we're just trying to think outside the box and do things a little differently, so we've got good teachers,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said their top priority is making sure strong and competent people are filling these vacant teacher roles, and that the community has been stepping up to help.
The district is also looking to hire staff in transportation, custodial services, child nutrition services and other non-campus departments. According to Community Impact, on-campus vacancies are at 345. They also need more substitute teachers to be in their substitute pool. They say even if you are only available one day per month, they would gladly accept you as a substitute. Leander ISD told KVUE they raised the pay across the district to include $15/hr minimum wage, $20/hr base pay for bus drivers, and $115/day base pay for substitutes.
Community Impact reports that, based on the district's data, available substitute teachers have recently increased from 318 to 425. The district has a goal of 750 available substitute teachers by Aug. 18.
The first day of school for LISD is Aug. 17. To apply to a position, you can click here.
LISD is far from the only Texas district dealing with staffing shortages. Lago Vista ISD recently said if it didn't secure all the bus drivers it needed, it might have to change its bell schedule. Meanwhile, Austin Public Works is looking for crossing guards to help Austin ISD students get to class safely.
Round Rock ISD has nearly 200 teacher openings right now. Round Rock ISD has openings for 105 elementary teachers, 47 middle school teachers and 45 high school teachers. The district also has 200 openings for support staff.
The Learning Policy Institute – a nonprofit, non-partisan education research organization that has tracked teacher shortages for years – said many classrooms won't be adequately staffed as the new school year starts.
Research shows declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs, and the Learning Policy Institute said 90% of demand is caused by teachers leaving the profession.
Working conditions, inadequate support and pay are among the reasons former teachers have given for transitioning to different careers.
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