Search for teachers intensifies at Killeen ISD in the wake of holiday resignations, retirements

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 6:29 PM CST
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The Killeen Independent School District is intensifying it’s search for new educators in the wake of the resignation or retirement of dozens of employees before the Christmas break.

More than 70 school district employees, including nearly 60 teachers, resigned or retired, the district said.

While staff departures before the holiday break are not uncommon, a member of the Killeen Educators Association said burnout is to blame for some of the sudden resignations.

“What we see with this mass teacher exodus is teachers realizing that we have to prioritize ourselves and that we have to demand the respect that we have more than earned,” said Jennifer Lee, a KISD teacher and member of the union representing teachers.

The burnout intensified as COVID continued to change the landscape of education.

“I will say that the pandemic and the impact, the long-lasting impact of COVID and just that wearing down of our bodies has encouraged a lot more people to retire,” said Lee.

Now, that is putting more of a strain on a district already short a lot of teachers.

Before the summer, the district was looking to fill 400 positions. Earlier in the semester, that figure went down to the 200s.

“We do want to make sure people know that we’re hiring and that these are the exact reasons,” said Taina Maya, chief communication and marketing officer for KISD.

“We typically hire 600 teachers every summer and this continues to show there is a need for teachers in Central Texas, primarily in Killeen ISD,” Maya said.

Even with incentive programs, there is still difficulty finding teachers.

“It’s become so incredibly difficult to teach, it has become so incredibly difficult just to be an educator, make a living wage and continue that life,” said Lee.

The district is trying to work to accommodate current staff.

“KISD is focused on not adding a single other item to a teacher’s list of things to do, so that we don’t continue to burn them out or draw them away from the classroom any more than they already are,” said Maya.

The hope is more job and career fairs will help alleviate some of its issues.

“Some of my former students who just graduated, they graduated in December and they’re going to apply for their first teaching positions,” said Lee. “So they’ve seen what was behind the curtain and they still want to do it.”

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