Superintendent Message (September 5, 2017)

A time of reflection and staff appreciation

September 05, 2017

Dear SAISD Staff,

Hurricane Harvey weighs heavily on my mind, as I know it does for you, too. Many of us have relatives, friends and colleagues in the Houston and Coastal Bend areas devastated by the storm – and our hearts go out to them.

SAISD was on standby almost immediately, keeping in communication with the city, Red Cross and other partners so, at a moment’s notice, we would be ready to welcome families and children into our District. A task force rapidly worked to prepare ways we could help these children feel at home – if even temporarily – by providing a simplified enrollment process, transportation, staffing and other resources and support. We went into the weekend with the expectation of possibly thousands of evacuees coming into our community – but the good news is that the need for more shelters has diminished and some evacuees have been able to go home earlier than anticipated. Please join me in embracing them in your thoughts as they move forward during this very challenging time.

For me, Labor Day was a time for reflection, particularly on my gratitude to you, our dedicated SAISD employees. Labor Day provides a perfect occasion to celebrate your work and achievements year-round. Please know I acknowledge and appreciate the value you bring to the District and our students.

I especially want to call out and congratulate our G.E.M.S. Employees of the Year – Linda Castillo, a department of transportation executive secretary, and Bea Guerrero, the department of athletics head custodian. They were among nearly 30 wonderful nominees put forth by their schools and departments for this year’s Great Employees Modeling our Standards award.

I also am pleased at this time to recognize our full-time employees, for whom the District’s Trustees recently approved a 2 percent pay increase and an increase to $13 in the minimum entry hourly rate. In addition, the starting salary for new first-year teachers, librarians and registered nurses increased from $51,500 to $52,350. As noted in an email from Human Resources, the approved compensation plan will be reflected in most employees’ September payroll checks.

Another recent development affecting not only employees, but students as well, has been in the news lately. That is the District’s revised non-discrimination policies, which now include the words gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. This change arose after a student approached the District to request that we revise our non-discrimination statement to include wording found in the policies of other urban school districts such as Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Houston. We applaud and respect the leadership demonstrated by this student in her advocacy of non-discrimination for all.

And, finally, as you travel within our neighborhoods, please keep an eye out for our “Inside our neighborhood schools” billboards. This campaign communicates the great things that are happening in our classrooms and shows the connections between teachers and their students.

It is the connections we make with our students, and the achievements that students pursue and earn, that make our work so worthwhile. Thank you for being a part of it.