Education News

Money Reward for Helping Students Academically

There are a lot of smiling faces in the Houston Independent School District. More than 40-million dollars in performance bonuses were handed out to teachers and staff whose students made the biggest gain scholastically. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Nearly 90-percent of eligible employees in the HISD earned the extra bump in their pay. Bonuses range from 25  dollars to almost 25-thousand dollars. Teachers on the average, received roughly 36-hundred dollars.  David Schellberg is one of three instructors who got the biggest bonus at almost 11-thousand dollars. He teaches social studies at Burbank Middle School in north Houston.

“Its always nice that somebody recognizes your efforts and your success, but I don’t come here each day with the ASPIRE award in mind. I come to school well prepared with my lessons and my resources, and success I think will always follow that.”

Principal Joe Espinoza says Schellberg is an example of how his teachers go beyond what is expected.

“We’re not surprised. I mean, teachers from administrators all the way to custodians, we bust our backs day in and day out, and here in January, they get their rewards. So, it’s not an accident that we’re here. It’s because of all the hard work.”

The bonuses come from the HISD’s Aspire Program, which was instituted by former district superintendent Abe Saavedra.

“It’s based on student growth.”

That’s Dr. Terry Grier, new superintendent at HISD.

“Hopefully, the child that started behind will grow even faster. A lot of these teachers will tell you, they spend a lot of their time before school, after school, sometimes on weekends, working with these children to give them the extra help and support that they need.”

But Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers thinks the way teachers receive bonuses could be a  littler clearer.

“An understandable bonus system would help, one where someone knows…okay, I’m at point A and, to get the bonus, I have to get to point B. They don’t know that.”

PH : “If the system was changed to where you knew what you had to do to get a bonus then, wouldn’t that negate
the reason why you’re teaching?”

Fallon: “Not necessarily. Granted, if I was heavily money motivated, I probably would not have chosen teaching as a career.”

The bonuses exceed last year’s payout by by almost 9-million dollars. Since 2007, the HISD has spent more than 113 million dollars on the program as a way to help recruit and retain the best teachers

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