BELL COUNTY, TX — Explosive growth in Bell County has created a lot of competition for the best and brightest teachers to be found.
A recent demographic survey ranked Killeen ISD the 18th fastest growing district in Texas, but surrounding districts had also upped their game to find and keep the best in the classroom.
The halls of Bell County schools get more crowded by the day, and with it comes demand from parents for a good education for their children.
"A teacher that loves students, keeps them engaged, a teacher that thinks outside the box," said parent Marie Mercado.
And schools here continually hunt for them.
Temple projects a need for as many as 100 teachers next year, Belton, 200, and Killeen... as many as 600.
Julie Burke of Killeen ISD says big districts have the advantage.
”Our pay is at the highest in the Region 12," she said. "Our resources are far above other districts around us, and you know, it is very competitive."
Why such demand and such competition for teachers? In Temple alone, in the last ten years, the number of permits for single family homes more than tripled to 1,000. Killeen and Belton tell a similar story, as families move here and enroll their children in public schools.
We reported on big bonuses Belton plans to offer, putting pressure on smaller districts like Troy.
"We're all fighting for a limited number of applicants," said Troy ISD Superintendent Neil Jeter, who can offer smaller class sizes and waived transfer fees, and one other secret weapon.
"We have an elective class at our high school that gives students some experience in the classroom. We're trying to 'grow our own'," he explained.
Other districts have taken notice, keeping the competition fierce.
”We want to keep growing it and I always think about if it was MY child,” said Burke.
Just what parents want to hear, as they demand the best.
"People who inspire?" "Yes, definitely" said Mercado.
Knowing, as Thomas Edison said, one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration can produce a genius.