SAN ANGELO, Texas — Central High School Principal Bill Waters raised multiple concerns in a speech to the SAISD School Board on Monday, and said increasing demands and expectations on students and faculty are reaching a “breaking point.”

In a speech that lasted just over 13-minutes, Waters raised concerns about issues like student performance, student behavior, and the mental health of both students and staff — problems he had seen students and staff experience at Central since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020.

“I believe that school will never be like it was prior to March of 2020,” said Waters. “It has changed and we have to change with it.”

Waters said that one growing concern within the district was the retention and recruiting of teachers. He told the board that in some cases, teachers had chosen to leave in the middle of a school year for better opportunities outside of the school district.

“For the first time in my career, I had teachers quit in the middle of a [school] year because they thought they had a better opportunity elsewhere that they felt would be better for their health and wellbeing,” said Waters.

Waters attributed a number of the problems in the district to the ever-rising demands placed on faculty since the start of the pandemic.

“The day-to-day demands on teachers to meet, prepare, design, engage, contact, and serve has reached a breaking point,” said Waters. “Teachers are struggling to get things accomplished at all levels, yet we continue to expect it.”

In other cases, Waters cited a shift in public opinion and political rhetoric directed at schools and teachers for some of the difficulties he said his staff had experienced.

“Public opinion and support for our school district and staff have taken a hit. With issues attacked by state and national politics and special interest groups.

“I believe we have a ton of support in the community of San Angelo,” he said. “But unfortunately, and quite often, we only hear the negative.”

Waters went on to offer solutions to the School Board for some of the issues he had raised. Among the solutions he offered, Waters proposed allowing more time for district faculty to address the needs of students, higher pay and childcare options for faculty.

Waters highlighted the need for mental health awareness, information, and on-site support to address increasing mental health issues among students. For staff, Waters proposed additional support within staff health benefits for mental health. Waters stressed the need for a stronger connection with the community in San Angelo. In order to provide that connection for staff, Waters suggested various benefits, including discounts at local businesses.

“We need the positive majority that supports schools to stand up and be heard,” said Waters.

“We will continue to break our backs to help kids. We will spend our own money to help them achieve. We will continue to devote time and effort to make it happen because we want our kids to excel and shine at what we believe are great schools,” said Waters as he ended his speech. “But should we continue to do this and will our staff continue to do this?”

“There is no other profession that has these expectations without the support in the form of time, benefits, and compensation.”