Pflugerville ISD pulls in central admin staff to help fill substitute gaps

Education

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Pflugerville Independent School District says it’s experiencing a significant substitute shortage. The district will soon start deploying central admin staff to help bridge the gaps.

“The subs we have had in the past, and the subs that are actually working is just abysmal,” said Franchesca Mejia, Pflugerville ISD orchestra teacher.

Mejia is also a department head at Conally High School. Right now finding a substitute teacher comes with very little notice.

“If you’re feeling sick, physically, mentally or if you have an emergency, then you should be able to stay home without the guilt or without the pressure of having to come back in,” said Mejia. “I feel pressured to come into school and just suck it up, because I know there’s no subs.”

“We have roughly 650 substitutes who are in our systems, but we only have about 150 of those who are actually signing up everyday to take on some of those jobs that are needed,” said Tamra Spence with Pflugerville ISD communications.

Spence says the district needs roughly 250 subs every day to meet its student and classroom needs.

“Our executive leadership team, which includes our superintendent and the cabinet — they’re going to be serving in the classroom starting at the end of January,” said Spence.

‘We’re going to run out of teachers’

During his public health briefing Wednesday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott suggested it may be time for in-person learning to stop.

“We are going to quickly see that we’re going to run out of teachers in order to provide in-person education,” said Escott.

Escott also called schools being at high capacities ‘a recipe for disaster.’

“It’s going to be a struggle for institutions right now, for both schools and other institutions to control the outbreaks that we were able to control in the past,” he said.

Neighboring districts experience shortages

The Taylor Independent School District in nearby Williamson County has closed one of its district schools due to the rise in positive COVID-19 cases.

As a result of increasing positive COVID-19 cases with staff members, Taylor Middle School will transition ALL students to remote instruction beginning Jan. 14, 2021. Taylor Middle School will return to in-person instruction for those students who have made that choice on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. All other TISD campuses will remain open for in person instruction.

Nine faculty and staff at Taylor Middle School tested positive for the virus, which is about 12.6% of its staff members according to the district.

“For our protocol in stage three, we are saying if we reach over 10% in an individual area out of an abundance of caution we would go virtual,” said Keith Brown, Taylor ISD superintendent.

Round Rock ISD discusses hazard pay

The Round Rock Independent School District says it recognizes the domino effect of COVID-19 on its faculty and staff. Trustees on Jan. 14 approved 7-0 a one-time, lump-sum payment of $500.

The money aims to reduce turnover and to retain and support its staff members for the remainder of the school year, according to a Jan. 13 announcement.

“This public health crisis has required the development of innovative plans to prevent employee attrition and turnover and retain qualified and motivated instructional and support staff. Round Rock ISD recognizes the administrative protocols and learning models needed to support in-person and remote learners due to the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated additional workloads and challenges related to each position within the district. We recognize these additional hours and challenges unique to the ongoing pandemic have created a need to take corresponding steps to retain and support hard working and dedicated staff during these uncertain times.

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