School Starts in Three Weeks But First, DISD Needs 348 More Teachers

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It's inevitable in a district the size of DISD that, in the lead-up to a new school year, there's a mismatch between the number of teachers the district has and the number of teachers it needs. But as DISD Blog pointed out, the district still has more than 300 vacant teaching positions with precious few days to go before August 27. Last check on DISD's employment website, the exact figure is 348.

"That's not unusual," said DISD spokeswoman Libby Daniels. "This time last year, there were 429 posted positions. Things continue to shift" right up until school starts.

Others beg to differ. DISD Blog compares the number with nearby districts'. Richardson, with a fifth as many kids, needs 14 teachers. Lewisville, with a third as many, needs 24. Fort Worth ISD, about half the size of DISD, needs 40 to 50. All of those districts are obviously much smaller, but percentage-wise, they're much better staffed to start the year.

Daniels said the district always makes do at the beginning of the school year by using substitute teachers and shuffling things around, but we're talking about nearly 4 percent of the teaching staff with 13 days working days until school starts. Maybe not debilitating, but it seems like a tall order.

So what gives? It seems to be a combination of things. Teachers, pissed about, among other things, that 45 minutes that was tacked onto their workday back in February have, anecdotally at least, been quitting and retiring at much higher rates than normal. Also, DISD waited until June to renew teacher contracts that are usually renewed by March, giving teachers time and incentive to shop around for greener pastures.

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