ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Round Rock ISD, like districts across the country, is coping with ongoing staffing shortages. Its temporary solutions include administrators donning safety vests and directing traffic at crosswalks as well as helping out in school cafeterias.
“I was formerly a campus administrator, so I know how it feels to be short-staffed,” said Autumn Herbert, director of instructional education.
On Friday morning, Herbert acted as a crossing guard outside Joe Lee Johnson Elementary School, cheerily greeting parents and students walking to campus.
She said she was inspired to sign on for these extra duties just a few weeks ago by thinking of the district’s motto this school year.
“I just think about our district motto this year, which is ‘it starts with us’ so, you know, if I can get up in the morning and help pitch in, I’m happy to do that,” said Herbert.
Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Mary Ann Maxwell has also been filling in wherever needed. Typically she also is on crossing guard duty, but Friday morning, she instead was assisting with school breakfast.
“It’s a simple piece that we can do and an easy way to pitch in,” said Maxwell. “It’s certainly been done before, but we certainly have more vacancies this year.”
There are a number of reasons why the teaching field at large is experiencing these shortages. Many cited pandemic burnout as a leading cause.
This past spring, as part of an internal audit, the district conducted employee surveys to learn more about morale and how the school board could improve its leadership.
In the presentation of the survey results, five top concerns were identified. Director of the Internal Audit Raquel Busurto said if the board and district addressed them, it could improve morale and likely boost employee retention.
“We have increased turnover, negative impact of student outcomes, lack of trust, negative energy in the district,” said Busurto. “If all the staff has a clear picture and understands their duties, we can help students succeed.”
As positions remain open in the district, Herbert said she’s ready to keep jumping in to help however she’s able.
“I just think if we have the availability to help out, that we do,” said Herbert.