FBISD: Staffing challenges persist in some hard-to-fill roles

Like other school districts across the United States, Fort Bend ISD continues to struggle to fill specific positions. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Like other school districts across the United States, Fort Bend ISD continues to struggle to fill specific positions. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Like other school districts across the United States, Fort Bend ISD continues to struggle to fill specific positions. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

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As districts across the country face staffing shortages, Fort Bend ISD has maintained its teachers—but officials said other district roles are harder to fill.

According to the district, the number of teachers increased from 4,844 during the 2018-19 school year to 5,262 in 2020-21—but substitutes and bus drivers have not seen the same staffing increases.

“Right now we have 120 teacher vacancies, and we have about 50 bus driver vacancies,” FBISD Superintendent Christie Whitbeck said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper. “Those are areas where we’re focusing the most. Keep in mind that we have 12,500 employees, so you have to put that into perspective.”

The number of FBISD bus drivers has declined since 2018-19 from 386 down to 366 in 2020-21. It joins other areas seeing declines, including child nutrition workers, which saw a one-year drop from 572 employees in 2019-20 down to 535 in 2020-21. Substitute teachers saw a sharp decline in that time period from 1,386 to 1,118.

“The shortages are mostly in hard-to-fill jobs,” Whitbeck said. “For example, like in special education, upper-level math and science, some specific career technology where you need trade skills, those have always been hard to fill.”


Nationally, job hirings for education positions have been on the rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks job openings and labor turnover. According to a December news release from the agency, October hires increased by 54,000 compared to a year earlier. However, job openings also increased by 42,000.

FBISD continues to search for solutions for its staffing challenges.

“We have some grow-your-own programs to grow our own people—bring them up through the ranks to become teachers,” she said. “We’re working with the universities. We have a strong HR department. ... We had an employee fair. ... We’ll continue with that kind of outreach.”
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.