The consultants helping the Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees search for a new superintendent got an earful on Wednesday from teachers, students, parents and administrators about what they want from the district’s new leader.
But they also heard significant concerns about teacher recruitment and retention and a perceived leakage of students and staff to Ingram Independent School District.
Consultants Mike Moses, a former Texas Education Agency commissioner and attorney David Thompson lead the recruitment — just as they did when they helped recruit Mark Foust to Kerrville six years ago, but this time they’re hearing about a community suffering through teacher losses and a high cost of living.
During two information-gathering sessions, the consultants met with community members and four KISD trustees — Jack Stevens, Andree Hayes, Curtis Finley and Greg Peschel. For many, the results weren’t surprising, but the suggestion that Ingram was siphoning students and staff may have been.
“We are in competition with a neighboring school district for talent and students,” Moses said without mentioning Ingram directly. Still, it’s apparent Ingram’s recent successes have led some parents and educators to move.
Both districts have similar pay structures, although those with 10 years of experience make slightly more in Ingram than in Kerrville, and Moses added that KISD needed to look at its salary structure.
However, the underlying inability to retain teachers is concerning, and both Moses and Thompson noted that this is not a problem unique to Kerrville — but a statewide issue. Foust frequently raised concerns about housing affordability, often stating that it was a significant reason some teachers or administrators backed out of positions.
Moses, however, said teachers are leaving the profession at record numbers, and the state is scrambling to find new educators. Less than 20,000 teachers earned credentials or certificates last year, leaving the state in a deficit. Moses noted that some teachers feel under assault by groups who have accused educators of teaching critical race theory, equating sexual health courses to porn or asking for a ban on library books. TEA is evaluating a list of more than 800 books deemed objectionable by a member of the Texas legislature.
More than 20 people have applied for the superintendent job, which will close to applicants by Feb. 20. Moses said he expects 30 applicants for a job expected to pay more than $200,000 per year.
Thompson and Moses said the feedback they received from community members wanted someone who communicated and was involved in the community. As far as experience, both consultants said about half said they would accept a first-time superintendent, and another half said they wanted someone with prior superintendency experience.
KISD was Foust’s first superintendent’s job before departing to the larger Northwest Independent School District in Tarrant County.