SUGAR LAND, Texas – Fort Bend Indepenent School District’s brand new superintendent is talking about the biggest challenges facing her students and staff.
Bill Spencer met with her Thursday. They discussed multiple topics, including school safety, staffing, student enrollment and COVID-19.
Dr. Christie Whitbeck says this school year, they expected to have 80,000 students enrolled. But, they’re about 2,000 kids shy of that number so far.
As far as teacher shortages go, they currently have 120 teacher vacancies to fill.
The responsibility of teaching the more than 77,000 children who attend FBISD schools now falls on the shoulders of Dr. Whitbeck.
Our first question to her was about the safety of our children in the classroom right now.
”Have you seen an increase in violence and vandalism within the district’s schools?”
”There is not an increase in violence or vandalism,” Whitbeck said. “What we have seen is an increase over the past few weeks of social media related issues.”
In other words, Whitbeck says violent threats are being made on social media. Threats that are targeting the schools.
We asked her to give us an example.
“Well, they’re going to say something about hurting the school, it might be some of them saying ‘I’m going to shoot the school.’ They are threats that revolve around school violence”, Whitbeck said.
Whitbeck says the districts had between 10 and 11 threats like this posted on social media over just the past few weeks.
Another huge topic amongst parents is of course COVID-19.
As of this Friday, Dec. 17, the district has 211 students sick with the virus, dozens more than the number just last week.
We asked if that means changes are coming, including a vaccine mandate for children.
“Are you guys considering a vaccine mandate for all students?”, Spencer asked.
”A vaccine mandate has not been discussed. Really, from my experience working in schools for so long, any kind of vaccine mandates for the other viruses we require vaccines for in schools took years before they were required”, said Whitbeck.
The new superintendent says with so many kids having been stuck at home during the beginning of the pandemic unable to attend school, one of her goals and the goals of the district is to get children back into the classrooms and learning from their teachers again.
She also says any social media threats made against any of the district’s schools will be thoroughly investigated and the people behind them found and held accountable.