Like many businesses in West Texas, Big Spring Independent School District is having to fight the competition for workers.
BSISD trustees learned during their special meeting Thursday that the district is facing a slightly larger-than-normal number of staff vacancies this summer. And the major reason for that, officials speculated, is simple economics.
â€śWe can't compete with salaries paid in Midland and Odessa and some other areas,â€ť BSISD Superintendent Steven Saldivar told trustees. â€śWe lost some very good teachers this past year, and we're very concerned about that.â€ť
The salary gap among school districts in this area is pronounced, Saldivar noted. First-year teachers at Midland ISD are paid an annual salary of $45,000, which is $9,000 more than they would receive in Big Spring.
Then, there's the oil field. Oil companies have been on a hiring splurge recently, and no school district can match salaries offered by those firms, officials said.
But Ann McClarty, executive director of personnel and education, said teacher turnover is an annual hassle for the school district.
â€śWe have lost some teachers to the oil field,â€ť she said. â€śBut some have also moved or have received promotions.â€ť
McClarty said BSISD currently has 19 teaching vacancies, a number she described as â€śslightly above normal.â€ť But, she added, school officials are very confident those positions will all be filled when the new school year starts in late August.
â€śPeople are certainly willing to talk to us,â€ť she said. â€śQuite a few people are attracted to a smaller town with a community feel, like Big Spring.â€ť
In other business Thursday:
â€˘ New District 2 trustee Pat DeAnda was sworn in. DeAnda defeated District 2 incumbent Maria Padilla in Saturday's runoff election.
â€˘ Trustees elected board officers for the coming school year. Irene Rodriguez will serve as board president, Phil Furqueron was elected vice president and Tony Kennedy is the new board secretary.
â€˘ Two personnel hirings were approved. Chandra Brooks was approved as a counselor at Big Spring High School, while Allison Wood is joining the district as a third grade teacher at Moss Elementary.