Houston ISD’s stock-based strategic plan calls for increases in teachers and librarians across all campuses


Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II on Thursday unveiled its long-awaited five-year strategic plan, which provides an equity framework aimed at expanding all campuses with library, nursing and advisory staff, as well as fine arts, gifted and talented programs, and specialty programs equip educational support.

The plan would also increase teachers’ base salaries, offer sign-on bonuses to new educators, expand early childhood education, and refocus the way the district communicates with families.

HISD officials plan to outline the monetary details of the plan during a March 3 meeting to discuss the budget for the upcoming academic year. House said administrators had a “solid grip” on how the plan will be funded but declined to elaborate until that information was presented to the board in two weeks. Some initiatives are funded with federal COVID-19 aid funds.

“We know that everything HISD does has an impact on this great city,” House said. “When I say I’m excited about the whole plan, I’m really excited about the whole plan — being able to compensate our educators in a way that I know and think deserves, a.” Being able to establish a baseline system related to how we support our schools and a staffing plan.”

Houston Chronicle’s HISD Strategic Plan Workshop on Scribd

The plan calls for increasing the range of teachers’ salaries by several thousand dollars over the next few years. Teachers currently make between about $57,000 and $84,000, according to figures released Thursday. Under House’s plan, that range would increase to $64,000-$90,000 by the 2024-25 school year. In addition, the plan includes salary increases for police officers, principals, and vice principals, while updating the main pay scale for all other district auxiliaries.

HISD will also offer signing incentives for newly hired teachers; Those with at least two years of experience who sign by April expect $5,000, others $4,000. Teachers hired through August are expected to receive a $2,000 signing bonus. Meanwhile, current teachers who commit to teaching three more years at HISD will receive a signing bonus for each of the next three years—$500, $1,000, and $2,500, respectively.

“I think it’s a bold initiative,” said Jackie Anderson, chair of the district’s largest labor union, the Houston Federation of Teachers. “Incentives attract, but do they last?”

Based on survey data House cited during the presentation, HISD risks losing nearly a third of its employees over the next year due to the pandemic and competition from higher-paying counties.

The plan calls for centralizing funding for certain materials and services to ensure all schools include them, including arts and sports programs; gifted and talented programming; special educational support; and substitute teachers.

The plan would also establish a staffing baseline to ensure all campuses have 11 key positions filled: principal, registered nurse or assistant nurse, assistant principal or dean, counselor or social worker, librarian or media specialist, student information representative, physical education teacher, arts or Music teacher, administrative assistant, clerk and wraparound specialist.

The move appears to be a direct response to community members, staff and parents who attended a series of community forums last fall to advocate for nurses and librarians across campuses.

At the end of November, HISD had 276 locations and only 58 librarians.

“If that comes with a collection and a budget and some sort of ongoing support for it, that’s fantastic news,” said Anne Furse, co-founder of HISD Kids Need Libraries, a group that advocates for access to libraries for all HISD students . “There is incredible support for libraries.”

The district also intends to expand early childhood education while simplifying enrollment and directing its marketing efforts to increase enrollment, which has dwindled to nearly 200,000 students.

Access to after-school programs will be expanded, while the district’s magnet program will be “reimagined” and expanded to offer more options in “magnet deserts.” The plan is to collect feedback in the summer and fall to provide updates on changes to the program.

“The entire presentation was underpinned by this theme of justice to ensure all schools have the resources they need to help their children thrive academically,” said Andy Canales, executive director of Latinos for Education in Texas . “Budgets reflect priorities. I look forward to seeing how the budget, which will be released in early March, will support the priorities outlined.”

Anderson, the union leader, also acknowledged a drive for justice that she said was reminiscent of some of former Superintendent Richard Carranza’s proposals for justice.

Carranza, who left HISD to run New York schools, had introduced changes to how the district operates its magnet and school selection systems, as well as centralizing school funding and standardizing staffing based on student-to-student ratios employees. The former district leader later told a magazine, “Once I left, it seemed like people just didn’t have the courage to take on the fight.”

“I want to say,” Anderson said, “good luck to the superintendent.”

The proposed plan does not include school closures. House reiterated in response to a question from Trustee Kendall Baker on Thursday that he hadn’t had discussions about school closures, but warned the district must eventually look to the future.

House said the plan included what administration officials felt were the best recommendations that took into account relevant studies and feedback the district has gathered. The district plans to solicit additional input into the plan.

“I mean, everything can change,” he said. “This is the beginning of the dialogue.”

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