The school year is just around the corner and Midland and Ector County independent school districts are trying to fill as many classrooms as they can with teachers.
While both districts have more than 100 teaching vacancies, more teachers are staying in the districts.
“This is the reality in West Texas, there’s just not enough teachers to fill all of the vacancies," said Woodrow Bailey, chief of human capital management for Midland Independent School District.
Gregory Nelson, the superintendent of human resources for Ector County Independent School District, says teacher retirement adds to the lack of staffing.
“When you start with 250 vacancies and then you have an additional 200-300 retire but you don’t have a pool to replace those 300, so you’re going to contribute to that overall negative count and that’s what happening this year,” Nelson said.
MISD has 100-150 teacher vacancies and ECISD has around 300.
Both districts say they are working to keep the teachers they do have.
“One of the things that is very encouraging that we’re experiencing is a decrease in the number of teachers that have left us this year. We're down 10 percent reduction in the number of teachers that have left our school district," Bailey said.
ECISD says they are seeing the same pattern.
“I believe our retention is higher, meaning we’ve lost fewer people then we normally lose," Nelson said.
The higher retention rates are no coincidence.
Last year, ECISD raised teacher pay by close to $10,000 and MISD added a daycare and retention bonus for their employees. These are just some of the benefits aimed to keep teachers in the basin.
“We can recruit, we can grow our own teachers. There’s a lot of things we can do to get additional teachers but the best thing we can do is not to lose the teacher you have,” Nelson said.
While teacher retention rates are up, both districts are scrambling to get enough teachers in the classroom and get class size down.
“The reality is that there will be some classrooms that are over the designated amount and we’ll have to make some options there. That might mean pairing an aid with that teachers, that might mean splitting a teacher that is there part time or sub into that classroom.”