HISD Board of Education approves signing/retention bonuses for teachers in struggling schools

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday voted to expand the current signing and retention bonus program to include teachers in core subjects at struggling schools.

The $5,000 annual bonus is part of a pilot program proposed by district administration. Eligibility is based on campus, as well as grade and subject taught. Teachers must be assigned to subjects in third through 12th grades that are tested by the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. This includes high school level STAAR End-of-Course exams.

Teachers also must be working at a low-performing campus designated by the state as “improvement required” for at least the past three years. Campuses currently include: Alcott, Bastian, Blackshear, Dogan, Foster, Highland Heights, Kashmere Gardens, Ross and Tinsley elementary schools; Kashmere, Scarborough, Sterling, Wheatley and Worthing high schools; Sugar Grove Academy; and Woodson Leadership Academy.

In addition to the above requirements, teachers also must be in good standing to qualify. Any teacher who is on a growth plan, under investigation, or has been reassigned is not eligible.

“Quality teachers can make the difference for our struggling students, which is why we have long stressed the importance of having an effective teacher in every classroom,” said HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. “This recruiting and retention initiative should go a long way in helping us achieve that goal.”

The signing and retention bonuses will go into effect for the 2016-2017 school year. Early estimates suggest almost 300 teachers could be eligible.

Also on Thursday, the Board of Education approved the first reading of a revision to the district’s policy for naming and renaming school buildings and other district facilities. The revision outlines a process for which school trustees could initiate the renaming of a facility, if they believe it to be in the best interest of the district. It also calls for all new names to be in accordance with the district’s non-discrimination policies.