ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — As the Round Rock Independent School District returns to class Wednesday, Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez is dealing with a new set of challenges unique to this school year.
Before starting his second year as superintendent, Azaiez talked with KXAN’s Tom Miller about how he plans to navigate those obstacles.
The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Miller: A lot of parents are thinking about school safety. You have a new school district police chief, Dennis Weiner. What are you doing in terms of school safety with resource officers and other safety improvements?
Azaiez: We are super excited about having him join the team. He’s actually coming to us from Florida, from a larger school district or larger system and with tons of experience working around school safety. So he’s bringing in very new ideas, innovative ideas. We cannot wait for him to start implementing some of those great ideas and working with our community to make it happen. We feel very good about what systems we have already, but we constantly try to make improvements. [Today] we’ll be doing a full-scale audit to our district. So they will visit all our campuses, check on all our processes and systems we have as far as safety and security. They will be giving us an in-depth kind of report as well as recommendation that can help us take our safety and security to the next level.
Miller: I want to switch gears to staffing. Lots of school districts are having a hard time getting up to speed. Are there going to be enough teachers, school bus drivers and other staff to make things work?
Azaiez: It’s a national trend where we see shortages across the board. Our team has been working very hard to come up with innovative ideas to make sure that doesn’t impact the operation and also ensuring that our students are receiving the education, the best education. So we have a plan to ensure that all our classrooms will be covered, and that our students won’t lose any type of instruction.
Miller: What about learning loss during the pandemic? Have you bounced back to where you want to be or is there still a way to go?
Azaiez: We’re very proud of the work that our students, our staff, our teachers, our parents, the community, came together last year despite all the challenges. We’ve seen a lot of improvement, especially in reading. We saw it in math too, but not as much growth. It looks like across the state we’ve not seen a huge rebound in math. So obviously we’re going to be focusing on improving that, ensuring that we have even bigger growth this coming school year.
Miller: What are you looking forward to this year? What do you want your families to be excited for?
Azaiez: I want students to be safe, [to know] that they will receive world-class education, and that we’re going to take care of every single one of our students and do everything we can to meet their needs. I want them to know that we are going to try to always hire the best, and we do have the best opportunities.