This story was orginally published by The Dallas Morning News, and can be found here.

Dallas ISD should start the school year with nearly all of its campus staff in place.

In a meeting with The Dallas Morning News editorial board, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said that the district had filled all but one principal position for its 226 campuses, and had only 250 teacher vacancies to fill in the final month before the start of the 2019-20 school year. 

“We’re feeling pretty good about that,” he said.

At this point last year, Dallas ISD had around 600 vacancies, Hinojosa said. DISD, the state’s second-largest school district with over 10,000 teachers and 153,000 students, starts new teacher orientation next week.

Those open positions, Hinojosa said, were mostly in typically hard-to-fill roles: bilingual, special education and math. Those categories, with the addition of Career and Technical Education, were statewide shortage areas during the last school year, according to the Texas Education Agency.

On Aug. 6, DISD will hold its final job fair before the start of the school year at Skyline High School, interview candidates for teaching roles, as well as counselors, librarians, instructional coaches and teaching assistants.

As for campus leaders, DISD’s lone principal vacancy is at Joe May Elementary in Northwest Dallas. Its principal, Israel Rivera, was recently promoted to lead the Townview School of Business and Management high school magnet. In the spring, Rivera was a lone DISD finalist for a statewide principal of the year award from the H-E-B Excellence in Education program.

Once the May vacancy is filled, DISD will have 33 new or reassigned principals at its campuses, Hinojosa said, nearly half the number of new leaders the district had in 2018-19.

Hinojosa added that he’s been “very impressed with the quality of candidates” coming through the district’s principal pipeline program, started a year ago by chief of school leadership Stephanie Elizalde and assistant superintendent Jolee Healey. 

The program was designed to groom qualified assistant principals already in the district for higher administrative roles. It flags high-potential candidates and uses grants and partnerships from Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas-Dallas to provide leadership training for those employees.

Elizalde said that of the new campus leaders, 10 were moved from other principal roles within the district, two were promoted from assistant principal roles at the same campus, and 20 came through DISD’s new principal pipeline program.

“Last year, the range of preparation for our new principals was very wide,” she said. “It’s not the fault of those candidates; we just didn’t have a good system in place to insure that we’d have that pipeline. We’ve obviously done a better job recruiting and retaining our best principals, and finding qualified candidates for those roles. I’m very happy about that.”