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Budget and Board news - May 14, 2021
Dear SAISD Staff:

Good news! At the May 10 Board meeting, our Trustees approved our budget priorities for employee compensation and our initiatives for social and emotional resources for the upcoming school year. Both of these items are critical components and are the foundation of our pandemic recovery plan.

Approved compensation initiatives include an increased minimum entry pay rate, from $15 to $16 per hour, and a general pay increase of 2% for full-time, permanent employees. These increases go into effect with the new workday calendars starting on or after July 1. 

Additionally, salary incentives for our legacy master teachers, now called teacher leaders, will continue into next school year. Educators who participate in the extended instructional calendar will realize an increase, as they will be paid their regular hourly pay rather than the “summer school” pay rate. The added workdays give opportunities to earn more pay to other employees, too – including nurses, social workers, counselors, instructional assistants, child nutrition staff, porters and bus drivers.   

The good news extends to our employee benefits – there will be no increase in employees’ health insurance premiums for the 2021-22 year. Additional wages earned will go directly into your pocket!

Just as we are building a well-designed compensation and benefits plan for our employees, we also are creating a proactive strategy to address student learning loss and to support children’s mental health as a result of the prolonged pandemic.

School leaders are submitting plans for our summer intercession, taking staff and parent input into account. In the next couple of weeks, the District also will begin surveying our community for feedback on ways we can use federal “American Rescue Plan” (ESSER) funds to support our students. We want you to be a part of the process and hope that you complete the survey when it’s available. Results will be shared with our Trustees before they approve the District’s final budget on the published date of June 21, 2021.

In order to start next year strong, some of the student support strategies we are proposing are expanding access to social workers and deploying social-emotional specialists. We could do this by scaling up our community partnerships, hiring additional Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and establishing a District-level clinical team to support a greater distribution of resources.

We also are proposing the implementation of intensive support at upper grade levels so that high school students have increased access to academic deans, behavior analysts and specialists, and special education resources. Students of all ages will have grade-appropriate instruction on mental health. This could involve providing professional development to certify District staff in Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Also at Monday’s meeting, our Trustees approved the naming of the former Connell campus as our new Hot Wells Middle School. The new middle school will focus on STEM, dual language, and technology. All middle school grades at Ball, Foster, and Forbes academies will be zoned to Hot Wells. Families who prefer the academy model, which serves PK-8, may opt to transfer to another District academy. Ball, Foster, and Forbes will return to their roots as elementary schools, serving grades Pre-K to 5.

At our next Board meeting on Monday, May 17, we will celebrate the swearing-in of two newly elected Trustees and two returning members. We also will continue to have discussions with our Trustees around next year’s budget. We want your voices to be part of the conversation. We hope you can join us either in person or online.

On a final note, I’m excited to share that this afternoon some of our first middle school students will receive the COVID-19 vaccine. When the CDC approved the Pfizer shot for children as young as 12, the Baptist Health System immediately reached out to offer us a vaccination clinic – and students from the Advanced Learning Academy are participating. In addition to Baptist, we also are hearing from University Health and Metro Health. As always, we will continue to work with families to gauge their interest in additional clinics for all eligible students and household members. 

I am confident that we will close this school year on a positive note and start the next one even stronger.


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