Board OKs incentive pay, staff stipends

Longview Independent School District trustees approved two measures concerning staff pay during a special-called meeting Wednesday, Feb. 26th.

Board OKs incentive pay, staff stipends

Wed Feb 26, 2020

Longview Independent School District trustees approved two measures concerning staff pay during a special-called meeting Wednesday, Feb. 26th.

Board members unanimously approved an amendment to attendance guidelines for the Longview Incentive For Teachers (LIFT) program and finalized the stipend schedule for the 2020-21 school year.

The LIFT amendment now includes exceptions to the attendance rule for catastrophic and bereavement leave, family emergency or medical, disability as well as school-related absences or closures.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. James Hockenberry said easing some of the restrictions is an effort to reflect the spirit of the LIFT program in rewarding academic growth.

"Many educators are hired after the snapshot date, and yet are still great contributors to the annual success of students. Recognizing their daily work by including them in the yearly LIFT program is a valuable tool to help retain staff," he said.

Dr. Hockenberry explained that the amendment offers a way for LIFT pay to be prorated for staff who exceed the attendance threshold.

"The basic premise of this amendment is to recognize each educator's daily value to the district students, most of which are economically disadvantaged, at-risk, or both," he said. "A single, great day and experience can have a considerable impact on their learning and life."

Back in December the district awarded more than $2.4 million in incentive pay for achieving teachers, with a few of the very highest-performing teachers receiving nearly $20,000 in their December paychecks.

Stipend Schedule

2020-21 LISD Stipend ScheduleAdjustments were also made to the LISD stipend schedule for 2020-21, with trustees approving Dr. Hockenberry's recommendation to increase stipends for several positions, creating four new stipends, and clarifying others.

"This is something we will continue to look at each year," he said. "Many of these changes are for positions designated by the state, and locally, as 'high need' or 'hard to fill' positions."

New stipends include $5,000 for fully-certified dyslexia therapists (Scottish Rite or equivalent), $4,000 for secondary (grades 6-12) English Language Arts, and $2,500 for dyslexia teachers. LISD is also adding a $3,000 annual signing bonus for Spanish teachers, with a three-year commitment.

Increased stipends include $4,000 for secondary (grades 6-12) math and science teachers, $4,000 for all foreign language teachers (up from $1,500 previously), $2,000 for speech therapists, $1,700 for life skills, and $1,700 for behavior unit teachers.

Dr. Hockenberry also recommended clarifying the $1,000 stipend for teachers who hold an English as a Second Language (ESL) certification.

"We've broadened the terms of the ESL stipend," he said, adding that the purpose of these changes is to bolster the district's ability to "recruit and retain excellent professionals."

"I want Longview ISD to keep the great teachers we have, at the same time competing for excellent teachers throughout East Texas who are looking for a place to call home," he said. "Longview should be THE destination district for our area." 

Board Election

Later, trustees adopted the Hart InterCivic Verity Voting System as the official voting system for the board elections coming up in May.

Terms for Place 2 trustee Ava Welge and Place 4 trustee Ginia Northcutt are expiring, with both members planning to run for re-election.

Mrs. Northcutt drew no opponent, but local attorney Brett Miller has filed to run against Mrs. Welge in Place 2.

Longview ISD trustees are elected to serve three-year terms.

In other business...

Board members also approved a request for contracted service payments from the 2019-20 school year.

Those contractors and amounts include:
     •  Betty Bates, professional development, mentoring, and coaching for science, totaling approximately $33,000.
     •  Faye Whitlow, professional development, mentoring, and coaching for science, totaling approximately $28,000.
     •  Tunnell Leadership Consultants, professional development and leadership development, totaling approximately $28,000.

Trustees also approved adopting new secondary English and debate textbooks for the 2020-21 school year.

Assistant Superintendent Mr. Dennis Williams told board members that students in "Newcomers" programs as well as 9-12 ELA students on the high school level "will have write-in texts that will equip students with strategies they need to strengthen reading, writing and communication skills."

Board members also approved a bid of $40,000 from K.K. Mobbs of Longview for site work involved in the removal of underground storage tanks and the installation of new above-ground storage tanks at the district transportation facility that as approved last month during the regular board meeting.

For more info

Trustees usually meet in the boardroom of the LISD Education Support Center, but often set special-called meetings at various locations around the district. The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. March 23rd.

For more information about the Longview ISD Board of Trustees please click here.