A recent survey suggests that over 26% of Dallas ISD staff are dissatisfied with the district’s culture and environment.

Chief of Schools Tiffany Huitt presented the results of the 2024 Spring Climate Survey at last Thursday’s Dallas ISD board meeting.

Campus employees — teachers and staff — were asked to weigh in on several matters related to their school’s culture and environment and register their sentiments to a number of statements. Among them were:

“I would recommend this school to others to work here.”

“Unruly students are not permitted to disrupt the learning environment.”

“If I were offered a comparable position with similar pay and benefits at another district, I would stay with Dallas ISD.”

“The campus I work in is clean, safe, and free of physical hazards.”

Over a quarter — 26.3% — of the responses provided by survey takers were negative. However, the number of positive agreement responses has risen slightly from 68.2% to 73.7% since 2018.

“We can see that in 10 out of the 10 components, we had an overall positive increase,” Huitt said. “We had our most significant improvement in the areas around morale, specifically in student discipline.”

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, a surge in student misbehavior has been one of several consequences noticed in classrooms nationwide in the wake of the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher rates of absenteeism and significant learning losses were others.

Dallas ISD has implemented several measures to contend with student disciplinary issues, such as Reset Centers and Disciplinary Alternative Education programs. However, the board is currently deliberating a significant change to how it disciplines students, as recently covered by The Dallas Express.

“We spent time with our principals, training them on best practices around climate and culture practices that could help build a team and staff recognition. And we can see the results,” Huitt told trustees.

Another initiative highlighted by Huitt was the Stay Campaign, which recognizes the district’s highest-performing teachers. The district has also spent heavily on various awards, such as the Teacher of Promise.

“Just telling somebody that they’re appreciated and their work is noticed and that their work is valued goes a long way to help us with retention across the district,” Huitt said, noting that an estimated 95% of those recognized for their service remain in Dallas ISD.

Teacher retention is a critical issue across the state, with attrition rates reaching record highs last year.

Dallas ISD officials recently approved a districtwide salary increase of 2-7%, which, as reported by The Dallas Express, helped lead to a budget deficit of around $152 million.

Nationwide, schools are trying to maintain competitive teacher wages amid an industry shortage. According to a report from the National Education Association, the average teacher salary increased by an average of 4.1% to $69,544 between 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

Through the recent salary bump, the minimum a Dallas ISD teacher will earn per year will be $62,000 — up from $61,000 — while the average pay will be around $70,000.

Dallas ISD’s budget has ballooned despite student enrollment figures declining over the past few years. Between increased competition from charter schools, demographic shifts, and lackluster academic results, the district’s student body went from 157,575 in 2011-2012 to 139,305 in 2023-2024. Projections for this coming term put student enrollment at around 137,529.

According to the latest accountability report from the Texas Education Agency, only 41% of Dallas ISD students scored at grade level on the STAAR exam in 2021-2022, while almost 20% of the district’s graduating Class of 2022 did not obtain a diploma within four years.