LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — KXAN’s Sally Hernandez spoke with the superintendent of the Leander Independent School District to discuss what steps the district is taking to fully staff its schools and the precautions the district is taking surrounding fentanyl.
SALLY: “How does Leander ISD compare to other schools when it comes to staff? Do you have enough teachers and staff on hand for the school year?
SUPERINTENDENT BRUCE GEARING: “So, this has been a really challenging time for all school districts, and Leander ISD is no different. But I will say that instead of thinking about how many staff we’ve lost or are losing, I like to look at it from the perspective of how many we’ve managed to recruit and hire in the district. And our human resources department has done an exceptional job of finding innovative and creative ways to fill those vacant positions that we have across the district. One of those ways is they’ve been recruiting internationally, and so, we’ve engaged with two different programs. One is called the Spirit Cultural Exchange Program to hire teachers. The great part of this program is it’s bringing really experienced teachers with five or more years of experience in their home country to the district on special visas, and we appreciate that effort with that entity.”
GEARING: “Of course, recruiting has been huge for us. This year, we’ve had 200 more teachers than we had during this same period last year. And so, almost 1,037 new staff to the district on the teaching side, which is an incredible job of making sure that our kids are getting what they need very qualified personnel.
SALLY: “We talked about fentanyl, how it’s just a growing crisis in so many school districts. How are you addressing that here at Leander ISD?
GEARING: “Yeah, it’s definitely a huge issue and one that we’re watching very carefully, and we’re very fortunate that we haven’t seen any loss of life through fentanyl yet in the district. And we hope and pray that that continues.”
GEARING: “We’re really proud that we’ve managed to get Narcan into our campuses. So, all of our nurses have doses of Narcan on their person in their clinics. SROs also carry Narcan, we’ve just recently managed to increase the number of doses that we have available as they start to see the very powerful fentanyl that’s coming off the street. That’s requiring more than one dose of Narcan to address, and so we’re doing everything that we can. We are trying to educate parents, and we’re about to roll out some direct student education on this very difficult challenge.