Georgetown ISD Still Struggles With Teacher Shortage, Urges Legislators For More Money

GEORGETOWN, TX (KXAN) — Georgetown Department of Social Development Superintendent Fred Brent said the county’s dozens of job openings are “abnormal” as the county struggles to keep schools staffed.

Brent said the problem is the result of many teachers leaving the profession during the pandemic, as well as a lack of funding from the state legislature.

Dr. Brent spoke with KXAN about HR, fentanyl, safety, student achievement and more as part of our Superintendent Series.

Tom Miller: Earlier this week, the district held a meeting with parents about drugs and how to detect them. We know other school districts are dealing with fentanyl issues. How is it in Georgetown ISD?

Dr. Fred Brent: Our hearts go out to all the families that have been affected by this fentanyl problem that we are all facing. And we just want to make sure our parents and our community are aware of this and our nurses are ready to respond if we have an emergency. We haven’t had that in Georgetown yet, but we always want to make sure we’re active and ready.

VolumeA: Last time we spoke (in August), you said that the staffing level is pretty good. You were happy with the way things were. I looked this morning – 21 special education jobs, 29 teacher jobs. This is fine? Is this where you want to be?

Dr. Brent: No, it’s not normal, and it’s not what we want. We are still working on filling the vacancy we can. Our staff has done an amazing job filling in the gaps we have. We have employees who did the same work in the class, but the roles were reversed. We have learning support groups on campus running classes right now. We have great teachers who roll up their sleeves and succeed. My heart goes out to them and our campus directors, our service staff. Public education is currently understaffed. In Georgetown, our people will find a way to make things work. It’s not sustainable, we’ll need help.

Volume: At the beginning of this school year, there were security checks where people came to campuses and checked how safe the buildings were. How are things in Georgetown?

Dr. BrentA: Wow, it was a unique experience. We passed all, no results on any of the security audits we had. Someone literally tried to get into your schools and all of our people did a great job.

VolumeA: We have COVID, we have influenza, we have RSV, all around. Is there anything the county can do to mitigate them?

Dr. Brent: The main thing is to encourage families to tell us if they are sick, to encourage sick people to seek treatment. For us, it means actively communicating with families and encouraging them to let us know if they are sick so that we can help these children return home or get some help.

Volume: This state makes these report cards where districts are given a letter grade. Georgetown ISD got a B. He excelled in student achievement, but received an A in bridging the gap between different student groups. How can you improve this?

Dr. Brent: This is largely due to how our students got out of the pandemic. The pandemic has not yet completely passed, which means that it will be in our system for some more time. We see that you have students who have not had a regular school year for three years. So now it’s about meeting students where they are, assessing their needs and finding the interventions they need to help them succeed. But this will take years. This pandemic needs to be flushed out of our system and it will take some time.

Volume: The state legislature began work this week, and school districts have different priorities. What does the Georgetown ISD hope the legislature will do?

Dr. BrentA: They must do something. We are operating with the same dollars per student as in 2019. Every family knows the cost of inflation, the cost of running a business if you have a business and you haven’t changed your income stream since 2019. To provide more services, more salaries, to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, you must have more funding. The legislature must act in accordance with the basic distribution. They will have to increase this, otherwise the schools will not survive. 30% of your school taxes go to the general state budget, they don’t stay local. I don’t think taxpayers really know about this.

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