Texas’ Rural Schools Need Help Attracting Teachers, and It’s All About the Pay

In rural districts across Texas, the struggle to attract and keep teachers is only getting more difficult. Some districts that don't get any takers for open jobs have resorted to livestreaming instruction from other schools or having educators teach more than one grade.And they're constantly working on creative ways to stop their teachers from being poached by better paying districts. Brian Storman, superintendent of the tiny Bloomburg school district near Texarkana, offers shorter work days, stipends for taking graduate-level courses, peer mentor programs, retention bonuses and more. Still, he routinely loses staff to schools in the Dallas area. "We can give them the best working environment. I even cook for our teachers once a month," said Storman, who needs about 30 teachers for his 286 students. "But nine times out of 10, when they start here and leave, it's always for the money." Lawmakers in Austin are debating teacher pay and school finance during the special session. Superintendents from rural districts say lawmakers have a chance to help them out by sending more money their way. While getting teachers to leave big-city amenities for country life has long been a challenge, school leaders say it's now tougher than ever. "We're starting to hear now -- and this is a new problem for the state -- where rural districts will post a job and not get a single application," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath recently told The Dallas Morning News. Morath formed a rural school district task force in October to explore challenges and solutions to some of their problems.   Continue reading...

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