AUSTIN, Texas - The first day of school is just weeks away and school districts across Central Texas are still trying to hire hundreds of teachers.
Research shows teachers directly impact the achievement of students, and they need the stability, relationship and collaboration to thrive.
A smaller pool of candidates because fewer people are interested in a teaching career and more retirees is putting a strain on school districts. Many districts are pulling out all the stops to get teachers in their doors.
"During this time it's super competitive among school districts trying to hire teachers to get ready for the school year," Lockhart Independent School District Chief of Staff Christina Courson said.
The Austin Independent School District is offering a $2,000 retention stipend on top of the $52,190 annual salary. For bilingual or special education teachers, national board certified, or master’s degree recipients can make even more money.
Lockhart ISD is offering a $3,000 signing bonus on top of the $51,500 annual salary. For bilingual teachers, $6,500 is added as a stipend. Based off the last job fair, Courson said incentives are working.
"There were 570 students who had teachers at the end of the day that they didn't in the morning," Courson said.
She said that’s what it’s about, so students have a caring teacher throughout the year.
"It's in that connection and safety that they are able to thrive, they're able to take risks and to learn," Courson said.
Studies show teachers are leaving the profession because they’re stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed having more on their plate because of staff shortages.
"One of the things our teachers told us in the last teacher forum was that they really needed extra support dealing with stress and some of the anxiety that this pandemic has caused many people," Courson said.
Austin ISD has about 550 teaching and 180 teaching assistant vacancies. Lockhart ISD is looking to fill about 20 vacancies.
Meanwhile, Del Valle Independent School District is almost fully staffed.
"We still have positions that are open, and we're working to fill, but we feel like we're in really good shape going into the school year," Del Valle ISD Executive Director of Communications Christopher Weddle said.
He attributes the interest to resources for staff, health benefits, but especially competitive pay.
"We must pay them more. We must," Austin ISD Assistant Superintendent for Employee Sustainability Brandi Hosack said.
On July 27, Del Valle ISD is hosting a job fair at the Opportunity Center from 4-7 p.m.
On July 29, Lockhart ISD is hosting an "Interview on Demand" from 8 a.m. to noon.
On August 2, Austin ISD is hosting a job fair at Central Office from 9-11 a.m.