GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — The Georgetown Independent School District kicked off its school year Thursday short-staffed in multiple departments and looking to fill open positions.

It comes after two years of interrupted learning that’s created unique learning challenges.

Georgetown ISD Superintendent Fred Brent talked with KXAN’s Tom Miller about some of his top focuses at the start of the school year.

This interview was been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Miller: What is Georgetown ISD doing in terms of enhanced safety and school resource officers?

Brent: First, I will say to all of our families that safety is very important to us. As a father and as a lifelong educator, you give us your child every day, and we take that very, very seriously. So in Georgetown ISD we began in 2015 with secure entrance vestibules. All of our buildings have security cameras through bond elections that have been funded throughout all of our campuses. Obviously, we have school resource officers assigned to our campuses as well as all the safety protocols that we work with the state of Texas to comply with.

Miller: What about staffing? I asked that knowing that Georgetown is the fastest growing city in the country. So are you guys able to keep up?

Brent: Staffing is a challenge across the state of Texas and across the country with public education. Right now we feel good about our staffing, considering the situation that all of us are in. So we’re at about 3% of our workforce [needing to be filled]. We would still like to make sure we get those positions in place. But in Georgetown, Texas, we’re growing like you said, and we are working hard to keep up with staffing. Very proud of our principals and the efforts they’ve made. We’re ready to start school.

Miller: For the first time the district is going to be welcoming back volunteers. They weren’t allowed on campus during the pandemic — how does that help to have those extra people?

Brent: We believe that we are a foundation of this community. We also believe we’re a district where community engagement enhances the experience of our kiddos. We are wanting our volunteers to come back in our buildings. It’s been a tough time the last two years part of our recovery from this pandemic. Not only do you have academics, mental health and financial, you also have community engagement. We want our community back on our schools, and they can touch the life of a kiddo just by simply reading to them, just by being there.

Miller: With the pandemic, there was learning loss across the state. Are you happy with how you bounced back? Do you still feel like you have a ways to go?

Brent: I think all of us still have a discovery period ahead of us. We really weren’t completely back in the spring with all the disruptions that we had during the school year. This is a year of discovery for us. What are the academic needs of our kids? I feel great about our curriculum. Our curriculum supports our instructional commitment that we’ve made to growing student learning. However, we know that we still have a discovery time to see what are their needs, where are they with our mental health needs and how do we make sure we help students find a year’s worth of academic growth?

Miller: What are you most excited about for this year?

Brent: I’m excited about Georgetown, Texas. We are a great community that has a great sense of belonging, and we will be looking to the future. We know we’ve had a tough two years as a society, as a whole. But in Georgetown, we know that we’re looking forward and what is the strategic direction we need to take to secure the future of our kids.