Leander ISD has made progress in recruiting and retaining staff members over the last two school years, according to new district data presented at an April 11 board of trustees meeting.

The improvements follow a couple years of increased vacancies amid a nation- and statewide teaching shortage; however, some vacancies still exist in the district, LISD officials said.

By the numbers

District data shows LISD retained 81% of all staff members last school year compared to 76% in the 2021-22 school year. Among teachers, the district retained 84% in 2022-23 compared to 79% in 2021-22.

The district also improved retention amongst special education teachers at a slightly lower rate, retaining 81% of special education teachers last school year versus 78% in 2021-22.

Data obtained by Community Impact shows 64 teachers have exited the district so far this school year, while nearly 500 teachers left the district during the 2022-23 school year.

Over 250 teachers will not be returning for the 2024-25 school year, Chief Human Resources Officer Karie Lynn Eggeling said.

The district had 42 vacant teaching positions in February, compared to 77 teacher vacancies in February 2023.

LISD has also increased its pool of job applicants over the last two school years, said Lisa Gibbs, executive director of talent acquisition and employee support. The district had 7,290 applicants for the 2022-23 school year compared to 4,793 the year before.

Around 4,000 people had applied with the district as of December; however, the district expects the total number of applicants this school year to match or exceed the number of applicants from last school year, Gibbs said.

Turnover amongst support staff has also been reduced this school year, district data shows. The turnover rate for transportation staff decreased from almost 40% in the 2022-23 school year to 10% this school year. For child nutrition services staff, the turnover rate was reduced from from 28% to 12%.

Child nutrition services and custodial positions are now fully staffed in the southern part of the district, said Brandon Evans, senior executive director of operations.

The context

Leander ISD is one of many districts in the state that has been impacted by a nationwide teacher shortage. Eggeling said fewer college students are pursuing degrees in education.

In August, the LISD board approved using waivers to hire uncertified teachers while they worked to receive their certification. The district has also expanded its visa exchange program for international teachers from two to 32 teachers since the 2021-22 school year.

The district has taken the following initiatives to recruit more teachers, Gibbs said:
  • Hosted events on how community members can become teachers, including information on alternative certification programs
  • Attended job fairs and visited universities to recruit students before they graduate
  • Posted online and on social media
  • Extended recruitment efforts outside of the state
  • Used a grant to help current staff become teachers
  • Offered stipends for student teachers
In March, the board voted to allow the district to begin hiring for 27 hard-to-fill positions ahead of the 2024-25 school year, which has helped district officials in hiring staff, Gibbs said.

Also of note

During a budget update at the April 11 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Pete Pape said many positions become vacant in the spring semester despite the district seeing staffing improvements from last school year. New projections for the fiscal year 2023-24 budget reference payroll savings due to “difficulty in obtaining and maintaining instructional and operating staff.”