Cy-Fair ISD makes efforts to recruit, retain new teachers

As school districts grapple with the effects of a teacher shortage across Texas, Cy-Fair ISD is keeping positions filled by increasing teacher salaries and prioritizing retention.

Nationally, 500,000 teachers exit the industry each year, collectively costing school districts as much as $2 billion in recruiting and training teacher replacements, according to a 2014 report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national education policy and advocacy organization. In Texas alone, teacher turnover costs school districts $235 million annually, the report stated.

In CFISD, officials are working to maintain the district’s student-to-teacher ratios despite the statewide setback.

Deborah Stewart, CFISD’s associate superintendent for human resources and student services, said the teacher turnover rate within the district was about 12 percent last year, which is lower than the statewide average of 16 percent.

Cy-Fair ISD makes efforts to recruit, retain new teachersState, local challenges

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Texas was federally recognized for teacher shortages in several science, technology, engineering, math and bilingual courses for the
2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. These courses include: English as a second language; career and technical education; computer science; mathematics; science and special education on the elementary and secondary levels.

Chairita Franklin, CFISD’s assistant superintendent for human resources, said the district has experienced increased vacancies in those areas.

“It’s the same thing [the DOE is] saying,” she said. “When you have less people in the pipeline, you’ll see a shortage. [School districts] are all competing for the same quality educators.”

Franklin said because the Texas Education Agency requires teachers to be certified, most districts will struggle to fill every vacancy. As one of the largest districts in the state, CFISD faces significant staffing challenges.

Increased pressure associated with tying job performance to standardized testing scores has also pushed teachers out of the industry, according to the AEE report.

Cy-Fair ISD makes efforts to recruit, retain new teachersIn 2013, House Bill 5 reduced the number of end-of-course exams that high school students would have to take from 15 to five.

This bill was intended to alleviate pressure from educators across the state as well as within CFISD. According to Franklin, however, the district has not found evidence that standardized testing has significantly affected staffing numbers in Cy-Fair.

“CFISD has not captured data that would speak to teachers leaving the profession due to increased pressure placed on them because of standardized testing,” she said.

In addition to STEM hiring challenges and standardized testing pressure, Texas public schools shouldered a $5.3 billion cut to education in the 2011 legislative session, which resulted in districts statewide cutting teaching positions.

Franklin said CFISD cut many support staff positions following the    budget cuts, which put more responsibility on teachers. However, Stewart said the district has reinstated much of the support staff in recent years.

“I believe that we’re in a pretty healthy position right now,” she said. “Our teachers have a lot of support, and staff development is ongoing.”

Cy-Fair ISD makes efforts to recruit, retain new teachersRecruitment and retention

Gary Godsey, executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said thousands of new students enroll in Texas public schools each year, requiring districts to hire thousands of teachers across the state.

“Every year when 80,000 new kids enter the [Texas public education] system, that creates thousands of jobs that need to be filled just to educate those 80,000,” Godsey said. “That’s about the size of a Fort Worth school district coming on board every single year in Texas.”

Since the 2010-11 academic year, CFISD has added nearly 9,000 students, according to the Population & Survey Analysts demographics firm.

To keep up with student enrollment, districts in the region are boosting salaries and looking beyond Texas for teachers. Recruiting teachers from out of state is a growing trend throughout the state. The number of out-of-state teachers receiving Texas certification increased from 2,370 teachers in 2011-12 to 3,875 in 2014-15, according to the TEA.

About 800 new teachers joined CFISD this year, many coming from out of state.

“We look at states where there are more teachers than demand,” Franklin said. “Michigan is one example where we recruit out of state to address our teacher shortage.”

Cy-Fair ISD makes efforts to recruit, retain new teachersStewart said the recruitment process costs CFISD about $20,000 annually. The district hosts about 2,000 prospective employees at a job fair every spring to fill both teaching and ancillary positions, such as custodians and food service workers, to keep up with increased student enrollment.

Eight years ago, CFISD also launched a program called Ready, Set, Teach! to place high schoolers in education internships to garner an early interest in the profession. Stewart said many CFISD graduates return to teach in the district years later.

Partnerships with schools such as the University of Houston Downtown and Sam Houston State University also recruit new graduates and help classroom paraprofessionals attain teacher certification.

Stewart and Franklin agreed their main recruitment strategy is to offer competitive salaries. According to a report from the Texas Association of School Boards, the average starting annual salary for teachers at Texas schools with more than 10,000 students in 2015-16 was $47,804—8.8 percent lower than CFISD’s starting salary this year.

During the budget planning process every year, CFISD gathers information about salaries in neighboring districts and aims to start at or above those numbers, officials said. Just last year, the district increased the average annual teacher salary by 2.8 percent at the cost of roughly $8.7 million.

“Our board has made it a standard to at least lead our neighboring districts in first-year teacher salaries to entice teachers to Cy-Fair,” Franklin said. “It comes down to being able to fill a vacancy.”

By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball | Magnolia & Conroe | Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball|Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.


Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Greater Houston Builders Association President Keith Luechtefeld discusses power, plumbing, frozen pipes after Winter Storm Uri

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather.

Harris County ESD No. 11 commissioners met for a meeting Feb. 25. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County ESD No. 11 begins construction process on new facility

District offiicials have said they hope Phase 1 of construction will be complete by August.

Winter Storm Uri led to closures across the Greater Houston area during the third week of February. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
‘It’s been a rough year for us’: Expert explains economic effects of winter storm, ongoing pandemic in Houston region

“It's been a rough year for us economically; it's been a rough year for us public health wise. It's just been a rough year for us psychologically—first the coronavirus and then the freeze," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research with the Greater Houston Partnership.

The $560 million central processor, which is part of the new Mickey Leland International Terminal, will replace the parking garage for terminals D and E. (Courtesy Houston Airport System)
Parking garage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to be demolished to make way for new Mickey Leland International Terminal

The international central processor, which is part of the new Mickey Leland International Terminal, will replace the parking garage for terminals D and E.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

Emerging technology and alternative energy sectors could help ease the blow of an oil and gas industry downturn in Houston caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Houston-area economist said. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Greater Houston area could see economic relief from pandemic around mid-2021, economist says

Emerging technology and alternative-energy sectors could help ease the blow of the downturn in Houston's oil and gas industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris County continues to report more confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Cy-Fair area. (Community Impact staff)
Cy-Fair surpasses 50,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

Although Cy-Fair has reported more than 50,000 cases of the coronavirus as of this week, active cases in the community have been on the decline since the start of the month.