AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott is asking the Texas Education Agency to create a task force to help school districts across the state respond to ongoing staff shortages.

The governor’s office said Abbott sent the letter to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath Monday. In it, Abbott said, “the ongoing and increasing shortage of full-time and substitute teachers in schools across the state demands a thoughtful, creative conversation to develop strategies to attract, train, and retain the teachers our students need.”

Abbott said the task force should look into the issues teacher vacancies cause for districts, find the best ways to address the shortage and “research the possibility for flexibility of certification, placement, and hiring.”

The group should also make recommendations on policy changes at TEA and check up on initiatives at the agency that could impact the shortage, according to the letter.

Teachers play a critical role in the development and long-term success of our students. This task force should work diligently to ensure that best practices and resources for recruitment and retention are provided to districts to ensure the learning environment of Texas students is not interrupted by the absence of a qualified teacher.

Gov. Greg Abbott in letter to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath

The teacher shortage is affecting schools in Central Texas. A KXAN investigation from last week found the Austin Independent School District is experiencing a surge in resignations from teachers and support staff like bus operators and food service workers, according to district data.

An analysis of the data showed about 270 teachers resigned from the district since August — 11% more teacher resignations than this time last year.