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Amid growing teacher shortages nationwide, more than 2,000 AISD staff members leaving

Jason Stanford, an AISD spokesperson, said the district is in better shape in comparison to the region and state average.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the state tries to deal with an increase in teacher vacancies with a task force, Austin ISD saw more resignations in the 2021-22 school year than in the previous three years.

Alyssa Potasznik now joins the more than 2,000 AISD staffers who have resigned this school year.

"It's never been anywhere near this many resignations. Like, we'll have retirements but people don't just quit my campus, but it's happening. It's happening a lot," Potasznik said.  

RELATED: Austin ISD set to receive $5.5M in federal funding to reimburse COVID-19 safety measure costs

After teaching special education for 12 years, Potasznik made the decision to leave Texas. She considered leaving education but, instead, she'll be moving to Portland, Oregon, and will return to the classroom.

"I honestly couldn't see myself doing anything else. I really do love what I do," Potasznik said. "I don't want to teach here anymore. I don't want to be in the state anymore because it doesn't value education."

Potasznik said she recognizes the district, in some ways, is trying to help but the staffing shortages are weighing heavy on those who stick around.

"When people leave, the workload increases on those who remain because you can't find people to fill those positions and then the people remaining leave," Potasznik said. 

Austin ISD staff resignations have spiked. Here's a look at the numbers:

  • 2021-22: 2,106 staff resignations
  • 2020-21: 1,635 staff resignations
  • 2019-20: 1,114 staff resignations
  • 2018-19: 1,655 staff resignations 

Jason Stanford, an AISD spokesperson, said the district is in better shape in comparison to the region and state average.

"Austin is no different, but we're doing better than most. We have greater teacher retention numbers than the region in Central Texas and in the state," Stanford said.

Here's how the area stacks up against state numbers:

  • State: 14.3% (85.7% retention) 
  • Region: 14.8% (85.2% retention) 
  • District: 13.1% (86.9% retention)

"We noticed that this isn't a constant issue. It varies from campus to campus, and so we think that culture has a lot to do with it. We've also proposed retention bonuses and pay increases and a lot of other things to keep people here," Stanford said.

Ken Zarifis with Education Austin, the teachers union for AISD, said the district has to do more to help those on the verge of leaving by offering higher pay and more support. 

RELATED: Education Austin hosts rally demanding higher pay for AISD teachers, staff

"The people that are keeping this district moving and are having the hardest time surviving in this insanely expensive city," Zarifis said.

Zarifis added that he wouldn't do the work that he does if he weren't optimistic about the future. 

"I have a lot of hope in this next year. We have lots of opportunities. That's why we need our community and our teachers and our members to stay connected and our school employees to stay involved," Zarifis said. 

Potasznik said it's going to take a lot to see real change. She said she's not going to stick around for it.

"To fix the problem would take a political will that we have not demonstrated that we have as a city, and as a state," Potasznik said.  

AISD will have a job fair on June 27.

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