Waco ISD works to meet Teacher shortage
WACO, TX (September 7, 2023)—The 2023-2024 school year is underway and school districts across the nation find themselves, once again, short of classroom teachers. To reduce its vacancies, Waco ISD is producing its own teachers by career tracking high school students to achieve their paraprofessional certifications and ultimately become certified teachers. The district is making itself a sought-after district by offering enticing stipends and retention bonuses, so teachers continue employment in the district.
WISD is working to fill vacancies for teachers in middle and high school English, elementary education, and special education with specific certifications for student support.
WISD garnered a 25 percent increase in enrollment this school year in its Future Educators Academy. Dr. Beth Brabham credits the jump to the increase of teacher mentors at elementary campuses. “Last year, we had 10 mentors and this year we will have 20 mentors, allowing more work-based learning opportunities in the classroom,” Brabham said. “All of our students will qualify to take the certification exam to fill the position of Education Aide 1 upon completion of the 4-year pathway in Education and Training.”
Once students have passed the required Texas Success Initiative Assessment for college admittance, they are enrolled in dual credit courses with McLennan Community College. Students are offered opportunities with MCC, Texas Tech University, and Tarleton University for the College Plan leading to Associate Degree and Bachelor Degrees through the University Center.
In support of its existing classroom teachers, Waco ISD offers an aggressive retention program including bonuses of $10,000 over three years in the district for those hired prior to August 2021 and returning each school year through the start of the 2024-2025 school year; $5,000 over two years in the district for those hired after August 2021 and before the 2023-2024 school year who return for the following two years; $2,500 for teachers hired prior to August 2023 who return for the 2024-2025 school year.
Director of Human Resources Sue Pfleging reminds us that Waco ISD is qualified as a Teacher Incentive Allotment district which can boost teacher pay even higher. “Teachers can earn TIA designations which, depending on campus and designation level, can earn between $5,000 and $28,000 additionally each year,” Pfleging said.
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The district offers a myriad of annual stipends for hard-to-fill teacher positions. Stipends range from $1,400 for certified high school English teachers to $6,000 for certified middle school math and science teachers and $8,000 for certified high school math, science, and engineering teachers.
Law enforcement officers top the list of vacancies outside the classroom, followed by special education, paraprofessionals, child nutrition workers, custodians, and groundskeepers.