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Rural school districts in Coastal Bend facing fewer staffing issues

While larger school districts are struggling to get more staff on board, smaller districts such as San Diego Independent School District aren't having those issues.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — School districts across the state are experiencing shortages of teachers, substitutes, and even bus drivers. 

Right here in the Coastal Bend we're seeing the same thing, but it seems that rural school districts are doing faring better than larger ones. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic school districts are still navigating through the challenges. According to San Diego Superintendent Rodrigo Pena, teachers and drivers are leaving due to not just the pandemic, but natural causes as well.

"We're only producing as a state about 35 thousand teachers a year, however due to the pandemic there's a lot of teachers retiring early," Pena said. 

While larger school districts are struggling to get more staff on board, smaller districts such as San Diego Independent School District aren't having similar issues. According to Pena, teachers and drivers are in ample supply in his area.  

"We're a small school district we don't have as much of those issues," Pena said. "But I know the bigger districts are struggling with substitutes, with teachers and also with bus drivers." 

Premont Independent School District is another example of how resources are dependent on location rather than situation. According to Premont Superintendent Steve Vanmatre the district is even going far as to increase the salary for its instructors. 

"A starting teacher bachelor's degree no experience can walk into our classrooms making minimum of 50 thousand dollars a year plus there's a 5 thousand dollar signing bonus and 5 thousand dollar retention," said Vanmatre. 

Both districts are faring well, but a topic on their agenda is to make sure that substitute teachers are being taken care of during the pandemic.  

"I'll tell you where we are behind and that's with our substitute pay and we do need to take a look at that really soon," Vanmatre said. 

"We're looking at adjusting the substitute pay rate to make it more attractive too," Pena said. "Because now we're competing with Walmart, McDonalds, everybody is paying at this time 12-to-14 dollars starting pay for anyone." 

Both the superintendents are looking for qualified candidates, but also realizing they too need to do their part in making these positions competitive.

"It's not worth their while to get up, get dressed turn the motor on that's needed in the classroom for 75 dollars a day it's not just worth it," Vanmatre said.

Alice ISD is also looking to hire substitute teachers, click here for more information. 

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