MCDADE, Texas -- Texas teachers in rural school districts are a flight risk.

  • Lawmakers consider incentives program
  • Would boost pay for high-performing teachers

They’re leaving the small schools for the promise of higher pay in urban areas.

While state lawmakers attempt to level the playing field this legislative session, superintendents are trying to hold on to their teachers. 

Jake Story is a math teacher who doubles as a basketball coach at McDade ISD. It's not an uncommon match-up at a rural school district where resources are scarce.

McDade ISD sits hidden 40 miles outside of Austin. Austin ISD boasts nearly 130 schools and a budget to match. 

"They have things that would give them a leg up, that would give them an advantage, athletically for sure," said Story.  

Story knows he could make more money at a bigger district. 

"The price tag is always going to be a huge selling point on whether someone stays or goes," he said.  

But he has chosen to call McDade home. Superintendent Barbara Marchbanks said not all teachers choose to stick around like Story has.

"We have teachers who come. We train them. We get them prepared to teach our kids. They stay a couple years and then they want to move off because they're offered more money," said Marchbanks.  

To curb this, state lawmakers are considering an incentives program that would pay high-performing teachers to stay in rural districts like McDade.

Marchbanks isn't sold on the idea quite yet and said she would prefer a bump in all teachers' salaries, rather than just a select few. An all-around raise has also been proposed, but Marchbanks is skeptical since she’s heard similar unfulfilled promises in her 30 years as an educator.

She said regardless of what lawmakers choose to do, she will continue to work long hours to make up for being short-staffed. 

"Kids are my passion, I will be here no matter what the legislature does," said Marchbanks.  

The Texas Association of Rural Schools said that in rural districts, starting pay for new teachers can be as low as $28,000, compared to Austin ISD where the typical teacher salary is $46,000.