CENTRAL TEXAS (FOX 44) – Three Central Texas educators have been assigned to the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force.

These educators are Pam Fischer of Provident Heights Elementary, and the Waco Independent School District’s PreK-5th Grade Physical Education; Superintendent Chane Rascoe, of the Lampasas Independent School District; and Superintendent Narciso Garcia, of Vanguard Academy.

From urban and suburban school systems with large student populations to districts serving rural communities, public school systems across Texas are faced with growing staffing challenges. This is due mainly to both population growth, and the wide-ranging disruptions of a two-year-long pandemic.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has announced the creation of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force to help address staffing challenges facing Texas public schools. The Force is working to find teacher-shaped solutions to these challenges by blending a variety of perspectives and experiences from current classroom teachers and school administrators into policy recommendations and an innovative way forward tho firmly support the needs of teachers.

While the continued population growth of Texas was already contributing to a staffing shortage in some of the state’s urban and suburban public school districts, schools in various rural areas, and also, those requiring certain specialized teaching positions were also previously experiencing staffing difficulties.

COVID has only increased this challenge – and spikes in COVID cases have led to many public schools across Texas being short-staffed and unable to find substitute teachers to help fill in where needed.

Over the last two years, nearly $18 billion in COVID-19 relief funding has been distributed to school systems – allowing for a critical increase in the number of teachers, staff, and other priority support positions needing to be filled in public schools throughout Texas.

The Teacher Vacancy Task Force seeks to ensure that Texas schools are equipped with a comprehensive set of strategies to address these challenges, working to:
– Understand the challenges districts are currently facing related to teacher vacancies
– Share best practices for addressing critical teacher vacancy and shortage areas, including exploring opportunities for certification, placement, and hiring flexibilities
– Develop recommendations for regulatory or other policy changes for TEA
– Provide feedback on TEA initiatives designed to help impact vacancies

The Teacher Vacancy Task Force will rely heavily on the presence and input of current teachers. The TEA also plans to have a designated teacher panel in future Task Force meetings to ensure the agency is receiving guidance and feedback from a diverse and representative range of teachers across Texas.