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Education

Fort Worth ISD is looking out of state to combat teacher shortage

A red and white billboard advertises the salary Fort Worth school teachers can earn yearly. The billboards have been placed on the Texas borders of Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Fort Worth Independent School District
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A Fort Worth ISD billboard advertises the starting salary for new teachers who join the district. These billboards have been placed on the Texas borders of Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Amid a statewide teacher shortage, the Fort Worth Independent School District is ramping up efforts to recruit teachers from Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The Fort Worth Independent School District is advertising hiring incentives for teachers on billboards near the Oklahoma and Louisiana borders to attract new teachers from out of state.

Fort Worth ISD’s Chief Talent Officer Raul Peña said so far, the district knows of about 200 vacancies it needs to fill before the next school year. But there could be more.

“We're hoping to not only fill those but anticipate the need coming in, and so it's really hard to tell how many will leave in summer, which is when we see the largest number of teacher resignations,” Peña said. “So, our new strategy is to make sure that we offer as many letters of intent early on and so that we have teachers committed to work for our district and ready to fill those vacancies.”

Bilingual educators as well as math, science and special education teachers are especially in high demand, he said.

This comes as the entire state is facing a teacher shortage that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“And not just here but, you know, it's a national crisis,” Peña said. “So we wanted to toss the net as broad as we could and try to capture teachers from out of state.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to create a task force to examine why the teacher shortages exist in Texas and recommend policy changes to the state education agency.

Meanwhile, local school districts are still grappling with how to fill vacancies. Peña said the billboard advertisements are just one strategy the district is using. It will also hold a Career Advancement Mega Fair on Saturday April, 9.

Peña said it will be part hiring fair and part career advancement forums. The district will be looking for new hires, both for faculty and staff positions. But Peña said they will also have universities from across North Texas on-site to network with current employees who may be considering an advanced degree.

“So we're really not only accommodating our new incoming teachers and employees by providing them with sign up bonuses, but we're also tailoring some support to our current staff and encouraging them to advance their degrees with universities that are supporting our district,” he said.

The Career Advancement Mega Fair begins at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, April 9, at the Fort Worth ISD Teaching & Learning Center on Bridgewood Drive in Fort Worth.

Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at rmorr@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

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