WACO, TX – Having a thriving economy is a major benefit for living in Waco. But the competition it creates for the city’s school district is one we sometimes overlook.
“You know with the job market the way that it is right now, and unemployment so low, everybody’s searching for the right employee,” says Sue Pfleging, of Waco ISD Human Resources.
Employers like the Waco Independent School District have to compete with local businesses and operations to recruit and retain educators.
The district held a job fair on Tuesday night to fill about 70 job vacancies district-wide. Pfleging says when they saw potential candidates, they were sure to strike fast.
“We want to make sure that we’re getting the best we can and making those offers before they escape elsewhere in town,” Pfleging says.
The recently-passed state legislation to increase teacher wages was a good selling point for job fair attendees. However, the pay raise doesn’t solve the overall problem.
“With the pay being bumped up, I think that’s helpful. But there’s still going to be that competition amongst districts because there’s just not that pipeline coming out. So now we’re struggling, trying to find new ways to develop that pipeline,” Pfleging adds.
The district offers a $3,000 signing bonus for special education teachers, a $150 to $500 referral bonus for teachers who recruit others outside of the district, and relocation assistance to teachers coming in from at least 250 miles outside of the Waco area.
But even with all of those perks, attracting employees to the district is a struggle.
“You’re competing against business that can pay bonuses. That can pay more for insurance and they’re not taxpayer funded. So they have a little more leeway with some of those fringe benefits and perks that we don’t,” Pfleging says.
But Pfleging highlights one benefit in education that’s priceless.
“I think when you see those kids come back and say, ‘Hey you made a difference.’ Even if it’s one, that’s the reason people do this job,” Pfleging says.