BY DR. GERALD B. HUDSON, CEDAR HILL ISD SUPERINTENDENT
It’s no secret that finding classroom teachers in 2023 is a challenge for districts across Texas and the nation.
But we must find a way to fill these important positions with those who feel called to the teaching profession.
Our economic success in Cedar Hill depends on it. More importantly, the success of our scholars is directly tied to the educators we’re able to place in their classrooms.
Due to a series of challenges or opportunities, Cedar Hill ISD’s turnover rate was 28 percent – more than double the state average.
The chief obstacle we encounter has been self-inflicted – the failed Voter Approved Tax Rate Election (VATRE) from November 2022, which would increase teacher pay and student programming. The vast majority of our neighboring districts have passed VATREs within the past decade. The Cedar Hill ISD Board of Trustees are expected to call for a VATRE for the November 7, 2023 ballot. If CHISD wants to be competitive with teacher salaries – and hopefully, surpass those districts, our voters must approve a VATRE this November.
It would increase the starting pay for teachers, retain veteran teachers, and provide us with the funds to be fully compliant with House Bill 3, the necessary, yet minimally funded mandate approved by the Texas Legislature earlier this year which requires an armed police officer at every public school campus.
While the VATRE is the most crucial component, CHISD is working to attract – and retain educators.
District exit survey data shows, the top three reasons CHISD teachers leave the district is for an increase in pay, a career change or a family circumstance.
We all know, and research confirms, that qualified teachers have the largest impact on a child’s success in the classroom.
Being in the Metroplex makes competitive salary that much more imperative, because teachers have more choices for employment than if they were in a remote corner of the state.
We’ve empowered educators through more advanced and thorough training at the JoLynn Maddox Teaching & Learning Center. We track learning data, identifying trends and making adjustments accordingly.
Our parent engagement efforts have increased, through programs such as Digital Parent University, STEMSpired Night Out and Safety Summit events.
We’ve added a Behavior Interventionist to the district, and we’re partnering with three counseling agencies to work with children and families.
We are confident that the passage of a VATRE, and the district’s other plans will lead to a brighter day for Cedar Hill ISD scholars and families. A city cannot rise above its schools, it is imperative that this election season, our community shows up and supports our children and the teachers who choose to serve our young people.
The youngest members of our community are watching us and counting on us to do what is best for them.