Board members

Denton County Public Health Director Matt Richardson addresses Denton ISD school board members virtually during Tuesday's regular board meeting on Nov. 17, 2020.

Denton ISD officials hope to have 20 more teachers hired, trained and working in time for the spring semester to start in mid-January.

The teachers would be hired to teach exclusively students learning remotely across high school courses determined to have the highest need.

Just over 72% of Denton ISD students were enrolled in face-to-face learning Tuesday evening, according to a presentation given to school board members during their regular meeting.

That number hasn’t changed drastically over the past few weeks, but the trend since the beginning of the school year has seen more students gradually attending classes in person.

Area Superintendent Susannah O’Bara, addressing board members Tuesday, said the number of students participating in ConnectedLearning, the district’s remote learning program, continues to decline.

“At this time, we’re not proposing any changes,” she said.

She explained the process is fluid enough that principals continually reassess.

Some campuses have teachers dedicated to online classes only, but many campuses don’t have enough teachers available or enough online students to justify that luxury.

Teachers have expressed concerns about the massive hurdle of teaching both in-person and online students since the beginning of the school year.

Area Superintendent Gwen Perkins, talking to board members Tuesday, said the district posted job openings for the additional 20 teachers this past week.

Officials hope to have them hired within the next month so they can be trained appropriately in time for the start of the spring semester.

They would lead classes of students from multiple campuses across 12 core courses that require additional support.

District administrators estimated the additional staffers would cost the district $600,000, which averages out to $30,000 per teacher for the remainder of the school year.

Board member Doug Chadwick asked if the district would consider hiring some of the substitute teachers it regularly employs.

Perkins said that is an option, but officials are also hoping some previous district employees who left the profession due to fears related to in-person teaching might be coaxed back to lead online students.

One problem created by classes taught to students from different campuses would be potential scheduling conflicts when counselors and students try to plan electives and other core classes around universal class times for those core classes.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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