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Southeast Texas school districts struggling amid teacher shortage ahead of the 2022-23 school year

Both the Beaumont and Port Arthur Independent School Districts have more than 200 open positions needing to be filled.

HAMSHIRE, Texas — Studies suggest a teacher shortage being felt across the nation is hitting Texas school districts harder than others.

Thousands of Southeast Texas students are expected to be back in classrooms soon. District administrators have had a busy summer scrambling to find teachers amid a shortage.

Teachers are historically underpaid. A report from the University of Houston shows the average Texas teacher's base pay has decreased within the last decade. 

A study from a non-profit focused on retirement security suggest Texas is one of the worst states for teachers to retire in. All these issues coupled with the stress of the pandemic has many teachers saying they have had enough.

"The phrase from every colleague I've spoken to is this, ‘This is the worst, in terms of a teacher shortage, that any of us have seen in any of our careers,’” Dwaine Augustine, Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District superintendent, said.

Augustine feels his district is one of the lucky ones, as they are only short on a handful of positions. Other districts, including the Beaumont and Port Arthur Independent School Districts, have more than 200 open positions needing to be filled. 

"There's no state, or school district, that has been exempt from the teacher shortage,” Augustine said. 

Districts are coming up with creative ways to fill roles. At Hamshire-Fannett ISD, college students can get hands-on experience while working towards a degree.

"We essentially subsidize that education," Augustine said. "The remainder of that person's education, in exchange for them serving that role in the classroom."

If jobs do not get filled, students may end up in larger classes. Despite the challenges, Augustine promises to keep touting the power of the profession.

"People who are in education will tell you," Augustine said. "It's probably one of the most rewarding jobs that you can do. And that more than anything, once you get people in the door, you can keep them."

These school vacancies go beyond teachers. Most districts also have professional and school support staff vacancies.

Those looking to apply can go to a school districts website to find an opening.

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