HCISD faces teacher shortage

By Brittany Anderson 

HAYS COUNTY – Schools across the U.S. are struggling to hire and retain teachers — and while it’s also a problem Hays CISD is facing, the district may have found a solution to help remedy it. 

Reports show that recruiting and retaining teachers and staff is becoming more challenging, and coupled with HCISD’s fast growth, the district has anticipated these challenges and has worked to address the need for more employees for the 2022-23 school year and beyond.

As such, the HCISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a cost of living adjustment for employees during its regular meeting on April 25. 

Based on information provided by HCISD’s Chief Financial Officer Randy Rau and at the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright, the cost of living adjustment will entail an increased pay rate of 7% based on the midpoint of each pay grade in order to help offset living increases in Central Texas for teachers and staff, such as transportation, housing, groceries, utilities and healthcare. 

Teachers will get an annual raise of $4,528, counselors will get an annual raise of $4,694, and bus drivers will give an hourly raise of $1.72. 

February through May are months in which employees most often contemplate a change in employment, so the board’s approval of the adjustment allows the district to improve recruitment and retention efforts in a timely manner, according to Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Fernando Medina. 

The district has also struggled to find and hire bilingual teachers. Currently, the bilingual stipend is based on years of service in HCISD, where a first-year bilingual teacher is given a recruiting and retention stipend of $5,000. A bilingual teacher with 20+ years can earn a stipend of $6,000.

Bilingual stipend values vary in surrounding districts, from $4,000 in San Marcos CISD to $7,000 in Del Valle, Pflugerville and Round Rock ISDs. Per Dr. Wright’s recommendation, the bilingual stipend will be $7,100, making it one of the highest in the area. The compensation structure will also no longer be based on a bilingual teacher’s years of service in the district.

Dr. Medina and the trustees acknowledged that there is still work to be done on the compensation plan that includes the cost of living adjustment to address compression and other equity issues. The plan will be brought back to the board as needed, as well as presented with the 2022-23 budget.

The board’s decision regarding both the cost of living adjustment and bilingual stipend will set a precedent that other districts will look to follow, and board member Merideth Keller urged the trustees and community to not lose sight of the positive impact these adjustments will have on the district and its employees.

“We’re doing something that nobody else is doing; it’s unheard of,” Keller said.

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About Author

Brittany Anderson graduated from Texas State University in August 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously worked at KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's radio station, for nearly two years in the web content department as a writer and assistant manager. She has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch since July 2021.

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