Ector County, Texas (Nexstar) – School systems across the country are facing a teacher shortage and the Ector County Independent School District is no stranger to this problem.
“Right now we have over 200 teacher vacancies in elementary school, middle school, and high school,” said Executive Director for Human Resources, Staci Ashley.
Attract, recruit, grow and retain— that’s the motto used by Ector County school leaders when it comes to employment. Ashley says this isn’t the first school year that they’ve had a huge shortage and certainly won’t be the last.
“I would not say comparing this school year’s recruiting, of the 2021 to 2022 school year, is not the worst. we see a lot of turnover in West Texas,” said Ashley.
Ashley says recruiting is an ongoing process that starts up to a year in advance but looked different this past year because of the pandemic.
“Most of the recruiting we did was through virtual platforms, or through zoom meetings. I think what’s also important for us to understand, is that through recruiting– every single person in the district is a hiring manager. so they have the opportunity to be out there themselves recruiting. Either through networking opportunities, social media opportunities, face to face, and even virtual.” said Ashley.
During the month of July, ECISD hosted 9 virtual job fairs.
“We have lots of opportunities for our current teachers, or people that are coming to our district to operate as coaches or mentors. along with that is a very hefty stipend, in addition to that we have lots of other benefits, a masters incentive program, housing that’s available to our teachers,” said Ashley.
The increased salary is a huge incentive to work for the district.
“In 5 years we have gone from teachers being paid below 50 thousand, to where we are now for the incoming 2021-2022 school year to 57 thousand. That’s a very competitive pay scale if you look across the state,” said Ashley
“It’s really rewarding. they have so much to offer and really make you feel like you are valued and listened to.” said Erika Pocaterra, who has been a teacher for 13 years and has seen the shortage first hand.
“This year yes we have a shortage in bilingual teachers so they are combining grade levels. so some teachers will be teaching two grades in one,” said Pocaterra.
At full staff- the district typically has 2,000 teachers. District leaders say retention is something that is usually out of their hands.
“People may move or exit a district because they’re retiring, maybe their spouse has a different job, and they’re having to relocate or maybe they’re staying home with children. That is not unique to Ector County ISD, that happens all over the state of Texas,” said Ashley.
But Pocaterra says teaching and helping her 5th-grade bilingual students to learn is rewarding each and every day.
“The look in their faces when they finally understand something. when they see how they were doing at the beginning and how they’re doing at the end. it makes us teachers very excited.” said Pocaterra.
If you’re a teacher and want to work for ECISD, you do need a bachelor’s degree. You can contact the school district directly to apply.