Austin ISD teachers tell board morale at all-time low

Austin ISD trustees listened as teachers described their burnout at an Oct. 28 meeting. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustees listened as teachers described their burnout at an Oct. 28 meeting. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin ISD trustees listened as teachers described their burnout at an Oct. 28 meeting. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

More than a dozen Austin ISD teachers called into the Oct. 28 meeting of the district’s board of trustees to say that they are exhausted and concerned about retention.

“Staff and student morale at my campus is the lowest I’ve ever seen,” said Jennifer Lucas, a teacher in her ninth year at Northeast Early College High School, echoing several other speakers who referred to low morale at their schools.

Lucas, along with several other teachers who called in, said staff are burned out due to a lack of substitute teachers, many vacancies, large class sizes, micromanagement from administrators and too many required tests.

“In 11 years, I’ve never felt this degree of burnout. This year is going to definitely be my last year,” Dobie Middle School teacher Megan Barrett said.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district will immediately begin working at each of the identified schools.


Elizalde said regardless of the administration’s intentions, “clearly they’re not feeling supported.”

The district counted 67 teachers who resigned or retired in August, 47 in September and 24 in October up to Oct. 21, according to data from the district.

According to the district’s careers page, AISD is facing the most vacancies in elementary-level special education with 20 unfilled positions. The district also has 13 positions open for English as a second language teachers for prekindergarten through third-grade and nine openings for high school English teachers.

Elizalde said the district is working on a survey to administer to teachers about their experiences this year.

Trustees Arati Singh and Ofelia Zapata both mentioned that parents and volunteers could find ways to relieve pressure on teachers, such as recruiting substitute teachers.

“We are seeing this in every industry,” trustee Noelita Lugo said. “If we want our kids to catch up, if we want them to do well academically, socially, emotionally, we have to figure out how to better support our teachers, our front-line workers, our custodians, our drivers and so on.”

Editor note: This story was updated Nov. 16 to include more information about comments from trustees Arati Singh and Ofelia Zapata and the correct spelling of Megan Barrett's name.
By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.



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