How CENTEGIX can help the teacher shortage

In Texas, new teachers are hard to find. Teachers new to the profession are leaving. Experienced teachers are retiring in high numbers. Various factors can explain the resulting teacher shortage, but for school districts, the outcome of this shortage is consistent: teachers are overburdened, and students are underserved. 

One way to improve teachers’ working conditions and retention rates is to make campus safer for staff. Improving safety in Texas schools provides teachers a sense of security, which is a decisive factor in their decision to continue or leave the teaching profession. 

How Safety Incidents Impact Local Economies

The Uvalde and Santa Fe school shootings created lasting trauma for students, parents, families, school staff, and first responders. The effects of traumatic incidents radiate outward into grieving communities. In the aftermath of a school emergency, the most visible—and significant—consequences are loss of life and emotional trauma. 

In 2022, four years after the school shooting in her city, Santa Fe therapist Jacquelyn Poteet said, “there is still a lot of pain” in the community. The Resiliency Center, offering local free mental health services, sees 186 individuals every month. However, “far more people probably need the services in the city of nearly 13,000 people. A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve got trauma.” 

CENTEGIX Texas teacher shortage

But this trauma also creates economic hardship for the communities in which they occur. Parents and community members have borne the emotional burden of supporting students through difficult times. Financial costs, too, are often high: communities must pay first responders (including police, paramedics, coroners, and others) and cover expensive post-event investigations by local, state, and national authorities. And because communities often must rebuild schools where traumatic incidents have occurred, they must pay for this construction. For example, the new Elementary School in Uvalde will cost $60 million.

Research on the economic effects of school shootings shows that local economic activity decreases in their wake. Researchers demonstrated that fatal school shootings have an economically and materially significant impact on the communities in which they occur. Families in surrounding communities tend to spend less at the grocery store and on cigarettes and other vice items, and property values decrease. 

Importantly, dropout rates are higher in schools with high rates of violence and safety issues. It is estimated that in the United States, one student drops out of high school every 26 seconds. Dropping out of high school is linked to various factors that can negatively impact health, including limited employment prospects, low wages, and poverty. But when students feel safe in school, they are more likely to graduate and thereby avoid these negative impacts. Schools and communities where students feel safe foster improved educational performance and high graduation rates. 

CENTEGIX Texas teacher shortage

The Texas Teacher Shortage Explained

During the 2021-2022 school year, the attrition rate for teachers in Texas rose to an all-time high; 13.4% of teachers left the profession. This equates to nearly 50,000 teachers. A variety of reasons contribute to teacher burnout in Texas. 

These include:

  • fear of violence
  • trauma of school shooting tragedies
  • inadequate compensation 
  • the high cost of healthcare benefits
  • inadequate teacher training and support, including mental health care and childcare 
  • poor working conditions related to staff shortages, large class sizes, 

Due to these and other factors, Texas education’s attrition and retirement rates are high and continue to rise. The current rate confirms that retaining teachers has become a significant obstacle for Texas districts, and schools must fill positions every year. According to Kelvey Oeser, TEA’s deputy commissioner of educator and system support, Texas has “a lot more teachers leaving the profession, which is creating a lot of additional vacancies.” There are many more vacancies than teachers to fill them.  

School Safety in Texas: A Snapshot

The Texas legislature passed Texas House Bill 3 (HB3), a sweeping school finance bill, in 2019. The bill increases funding for Texas schools, improves teacher compensation, reduces recapture, and cuts local property taxes. The bill also distributes more money in high-poverty areas and invests in improving student outcomes with support in early reading, dual language, and dyslexia. 

HB3 also focuses on improving school safety by requiring: 

  • mental health training for all employees who regularly interact with students
  • the presence of at least one armed security officer during school hours
  • agency monitoring of safety and security for the school district
  • emergency response maps and potential agency walk-throughs

The Texas legislature allotted $1.1 billion to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to administer school safety grants to fund these investments. In 2022, lawmakers approved an additional $400 million for safety upgrades, including security hardware and cameras. 

HB3 Funds School Safety Technology

HB3 requires school districts to implement communications systems or devices that improve school safety. These include silent panic alert devices, two-way radios, or wireless Internet booster equipment. This technology must “facilitate communication and information sharing between students, school personnel, and first responders in an emergency.” HB3 supports districts adopting the newest and most effective technology, including mass notification systems, surveillance cameras, and access control systems. 

Technologies that improve communication and enable rapid incident response include:

  • mass notification systems
  • access control systems
  • dynamic digital campus mapping

These complementary technologies are foundational to a multilayered safety system designed to shorten response times. Implementing these safety solutions creates a culture of safety in Texas schools that improves staff members’ sense of safety. This sense of security contributes meaningfully to job satisfaction. Texas districts can better retain teachers by removing safety concerns from the list of contributors to teacher burnout.

CENTEGIX Texas teacher shortage can help the Texas teacher shortage

The CENTEGIX Safety Platform™: a Proactive Approach to Safety

Combining traditional safety measures with a multi-layered safety solution that empowers staff to be proactive makes schools safer. The CENTEGIX Safety Platform is the foundation for a layered safety plan that facilitates rapid response to emergencies. In a crisis, every second matters. 

The Safety Platform includes the following solutions:

  • CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint™ features digital campus and asset maps that provide first responders with critical information and accelerate response times. Intelligent response mapping enables administrators and staff to customize safety plans and quickly disseminate information. 
  • CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™ is a discreet, wearable panic button that empowers personnel with the fastest and easiest way to request help from anywhere on campus. Alerts immediately notify responders about who needs help and their precise location.
  • Enhanced Visitor Management lets staff quickly check in, authenticate, and locate visitors in real time. 
  • Reunification allows administrators to instantly gain visibility into all evacuated individuals’ statuses and then confidently reunite students with their approved guardians.

Texas districts can take a proactive approach to prevent crises by implementing the CENTEGIX Safety Platform. Layering these CENTEGIX school safety solutions onto Texas schools’ existing safety measures promotes safety across each campus. 

Creating a culture of safety with school safety technology instills confidence in students, staff, and parents. According to Michelle McCord, Superintendent of Frenship ISD, “Safety and security is everyone’s responsibility, so if we’re going to make that everyone’s responsibility, then everyone needs to be empowered to have a voice. These are public schools and parents entrust their children to us every day.”

CENTEGIX can mitigate the teacher shortage

CENTEGIX Solutions Save Time

CENTEGIX school safety solutions have prevented the worst outcomes, time and time again. In a variety of medical emergencies—choking, seizures, cardiac arrests—CrisisAlert has shortened response times and improved outcomes for staff, students, and visitors. Dr. Kim Morgan of Brantley County Schools states, “I don’t know of another product out there that can help control the response time to emergencies. Whether it is a whole campus situation—the unthinkable—or these different medical emergencies or classroom events. I cannot think of anything that will speed up a response the way [CrisisAlert] does or enable as many employees to get help and initiate a response.”

Technologies that have a 100% adoption rate, are easy to use, and provide precise location information make schools safer. Unlike other school safety solutions that utilize a mobile app, CENTEGIX solutions do not depend on cellular service or Wi-Fi for functionality. 

CENTEGIX Safety Technology’s Impact on Teachers

The quality of teachers’ working conditions is a top factor in teacher retention. Staff members’ perceptions of safety directly impact these working conditions. Teachers, like students, have a basic need to feel safe in their environment and they need to feel empowered in the workplace. When they don’t, this is costly for their districts. In many urban districts, for example, districts spend about $20,000 on each new hire. If teachers stay for only a few years, the district has to reinvest in another new hire. The long-term cost of constant reinvestment is simply not feasible.

In Texas, school districts have improved working conditions by creating a culture of safety. The CENTEGIX Safety Platform empowers teachers to participate in their schools’ safety plans and increases the perception of safety when they are at work. According to Frank Stanage, Human Resources Director at Alamo Heights ISD, “Workplace safety [is the] number one issue not only for the schools but also throughout the nation, so [the CENTEGIX Safety Platform] gives an extra level of security for our staff members.” 

Improving school safety technology is foundational to preventing teacher shortages. Teachers feel safer in a school where staff safety is a high priority, and every staff member is empowered to utilize effective safety technologies. This improves their confidence in their administrators and assures them that their safety is a priority. Under these conditions, job satisfaction improves. CENTEGIX’s Safety Report further explains how CENTEGIX Safety Platform technology can be implemented to lead to these outcomes in Texas schools.

Effective safety solutions can mitigate the Texas teacher shortage by creating a culture of safety in every Texas school. According to Ty Morrow, Safety Director for Brazoport ISD, “CrisisAlert is an additional measure that Brazosport ISD is taking to fortify safety measures for all our students and staff. The system’s effectiveness and ease of use provide our staff with the confidence and peace of mind necessary to maintain a secure learning environment.”

Help combat the effects of the Texas teacher shortage in your district with the right safety solutions. Implementing CENTEGIX Safety Platform shortens response times and forges a culture of safety that makes teachers feel secure while on the job.

Contact the CENTEGIX team to learn more about how your Texas district can create safer working conditions for staff and students.