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ECISD Superintendent discusses teacher shortages

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency announced the creation of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force. The goal is to help address staffing challenges facing schools.

ODESSA, Texas — Shortages is something we are hearing about too often these days, and it's not just food.

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency announced the creation of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force. The goal is to help address staffing challenges facing Texas public schools.

NewsWest 9 spoke to Scott Muri, Superintendent for Ector County Independent School District. He said the area has been struggling with teacher shortages for several years even before the state started experiencing the same thing.

"Upon my arrival, one of the first things that I noticed was the significant teacher shortage that we had in our own district before the pandemic started," said Muri. "In 2019, that first day of school we had 356 teacher vacancies on  of August of that year. Today we have 51 vacancies in our system and we have learned it takes focused and intentional efforts to keep really great teachers working with our kids every single day."

Muri said some ways the district is addressing the problem is by using tactics like strategic staffing. He said one of the main efforts involves better pay for teachers.

"We have increased teacher compensation by $13,000 in just the last four years," said Muri. "We've gone from $44,000 for a starting teaching salary to $57,000 in our system, so compensation makes a significant difference."

Muri believes the opportunities for teachers to grow is a key component to attracting and retaining more teachers.

"We have a program in ECISD called Opportunity Culture and it allows our very best and most effective teachers to teach half a day and then coach their peers the other half," said Muri. "It allows for that master teacher to share his or her knowledge with their peers so we are developing teachers capacity in our system with that opportunity."

School leaders believe addressing one issue like teacher shortages will lead to more positive outcomes in the future.

"The number one factor that increases student achievement is an effective teacher and the number two is an effective principal," said Muri. "Our investments in those individuals are the most important investments we can make because it increases their investment in the students."

As part of the efforts to address teacher shortages in the state of Texas, ECISD Executive Director of Talent Development Ashley Osborne was appointed to the Teacher Vacancy Task Force by the Texas Education Agency.

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