Substitutes in short supply at Dripping Springs ISD school campuses

Students walk through the Walnut Springs Elementary School campus on the first day of on-campus learning at Dripping Springs ISD on Sept. 14. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)
Students walk through the Walnut Springs Elementary School campus on the first day of on-campus learning at Dripping Springs ISD on Sept. 14. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Students walk through the Walnut Springs Elementary School campus on the first day of on-campus learning at Dripping Springs ISD on Sept. 14. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

Approximately 60% of Dripping Springs ISD students have been attending classes on campus for nearly three weeks, and according to administrators, all seven schools in the district have a need for additional substitute teachers.

DSISD Superintendent Todd Washburn said at the Sept. 28 board of trustees meeting that in the first few weeks of on-campus learning, schools have relied on support staff to fill in when needed as substitutes.

"The substitute issue is a big challenge for us. It really is. We welcome anyone who would sign up and be a substitute for us," he said.

According to DSISD data, 4,357 students are learning on campus out of the total enrollment of 7,257. As of Sept. 29, three students—two in elementary school and one in middle school—have tested positive for the virus. None of the district's 1,005 employees have tested positive, according to DSISD's dashboard.

Washburn said the safety protocols in place at the schools, from mandatory mask-wearing to adjusting bus routes, have helped keep those numbers low, and with substitutes needed, it will be important for the schools to continue with those precautions.

"We're really trying to make sure we put every safety protocol in place so we can continue to provide instructional support and provide classes in person," he said.

The window is currently open for DSISD parents to choose whether to have their child learn on-campus or virtually. Until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 2, parents can choose to stick with the initial decision they made at the beginning of the school year or to make a change.

DSISD officially adopts tax rate

The DSISD board of trustees passed its budget in June but had to wait until property tax rolls were officially certified to adopt its tax rate, which it approved Sept. 28.

The tax rate is $1.332 per $100 of valuation for fiscal year 2020-21, down from $1.4183 in FY 2019-20. That reduction is a result of House Bill 3, a law the Texas Legislature passed in 2019 that changed the funding formula for public schools across Texas.

The assessed value of the median home in Dripping Springs rose from $354,889 in 2019 to $376,600 in 2020, according to the Hays County Central Appraisal District. That means the owner of a median-value home will pay $5,016 in property taxes to the school district this year, down $17 from $5,033 last year.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at


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