District banking on various selling points to retain high-quality educators


Josh Campbell

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a shortage of K-12 teachers. In this increasingly competitive field, Coppell ISD works to keep teachers coming to the district through higher pay and other incentives.

Anjali Krishna, Executive Editor-in-Chief

As COVID-19 dramatically impacted the United States through the last three years, so did another upheaval: a shortage in K-12 teachers. 

This lack predates the pandemic, created by a culture of teacher blame and low salaries. The pandemic only heightened teacher dissatisfaction with virtual schooling, which often required teachers to cover classes due to the substitute shortage and spend extra hours doing COVID-19related documentation..

However, Coppell ISD did not feel the effects of a shortage prior to school closures in 2020. A robust applicant pool through the online application system and recruiting through Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas schools expanded CISD staff. 

“Before the pandemic hit, we were very actively recruiting by attending job fairs and things like that with local universities,” CISD executive director of human resources Kelly Mires said. 

Through the past four years, enrollment numbers to the colleges of education at University of Texas at Dallas and Texas State University have fallen consistently. Subsequently, school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are competing for the same smaller number of teachers.

“We hear about the teacher shortage in the news and that’s definitely affected our district,”Mires said. “We’re very competitive in Coppell because we live in the Metroplex area. If people aren’t happy in Coppell, it’s not hard for them to go 10 miles down the road to another district that may pay more.”

The pandemic moved recruiting fully to Zoom and through an online application system. Now, with instruction returning in person, in-person recruiting at local universities has resumed. But there are still more positions to fill than candidates available. As such, CISD is hosting its own job fair on Saturday at Coppell Middle School West from 8:30-11 a.m.

“Now that we are back to semi-normal circumstances, we’re recruiting again face to face but that’s not enough,” Mires said. “We haven’t had one in the last five to six years because our applicant pool has been robust and we could do well with recruiting without a job fair. We’re all competing for the same teachers, and the education programs are not producing as many teachers.”

In February, CISD sent out a survey to its faculty, asking questions about compensation, work load, raises and work environment to gauge what raises the staff is looking for next year before asking the Board of Trustees for funds.

“Salary and benefits play a big role in whether employees want to stay in our district,” Mires said. “But we know salary and benefits are not the only reason people stay. Job satisfaction, recognition on the job, and kids they work with and families they serve are all important too.”

In addition to being mindful of staff desires, CISD regularly conducts pay study comparisons with the Texas Association of School Board (TASB) to remain competitive. CISD pays a starting teacher salary of ​​$56,500 compared to Carroll ISD’s $56,100, Lewisville ISD’s ​​$56,925 and Grapevine Colleyville ISD’s $55,600.

Teachers were issued a $1,000 bonus in December as a retention incentive for employees who were with CISD at the end of last year and stayed for the next year. Another $500 will be paid to teachers June for employees who stayed with CISD through the 2021-22 school year. These are the first bonuses since a “Christmas Holiday” bonus 15 years ago, according to CHS science teacher Jodie Deinhammer, who has been with the district since 1997.

“It’s nice to have these incentives but I do my job because I love it, not because I make tons of money,” CHS science teacher Jodie Deinhammer said. “I love teaching and I don’t plan on doing anything else until I retire.”

The district is supplemented by teachers, especially in the Career & Technical Education (CTE) department, who moved from another career to teaching recently. Thus, CISD is still below the Texas average employee turnover rate, according to Mires. 

“We’re a district that’s innovative and has good kids, not a lot of safety issues with discipline and all,” Coppell High School Principal Laura Springer said. “So far, we’ve been able to get teachers we need and have an opportunity to have good quality teachers in the classroom. There’s teacher shortages everywhere, but knocking on wood, for right now we are fine.”

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