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HISD teachers get more incentive

Ohanian Comment: There are too many quid pro quos here to list. For starters, we might ask how many of Neil Bush COWS Houston has bought. BUt that is, of course, very small potatoes when compared to the real Houston outrage perpetrated on the nation.

District receives $12 million federal grant to pay bigger bonuses

By Jennifer Radcliffe

A $12 million federal grant will award Houston teachers who succeed at raising student test scores even bigger bonus checks than originally outlined under what's already thought to be the largest teacher incentive pay program in the nation.

The Houston Independent School District is one of 16 systems nationally including $22 million for Dallas to receive money from the $99 million federal program that's being launched by the U.S. Department of Education to reward teachers who do the best job of helping students meet the standards outlined by No Child Left Behind.

District leaders expect to use the same formula to hand out the federal money as they will to distribute up to $14 million HISD has already budgeted for incentive pay. The first set of checks, expected to reach up to $3,500 per teacher, will be issued in January to teachers who raised their students' scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and other exams.

Houston leaders said they were thrilled that their application to snag more money for teachers one of hundreds submitted nationally was selected.

"It was a major surprise," Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said of the phone call Friday alerting him that HISD had been selected. "It was the best news I could have received over the weekend."

First-year Houston teachers earn $40,269 a year in base salary. At 10 years, the base teaching salary hits $48,862.

The first federal payments are expected to be made in January 2008, at which time the HISD program is expected to have grown to $22 million, or up to $4,500 per qualifying teacher. The federal money is expected to be targeted to 109 HISD campuses that have state accountability ratings of "acceptable" or higher and where at least 30 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

About half of HISD's 13,000 teachers are expected to earn school district-funded bonuses, officials said. About 4,000 of those should qualify for the extra money from the federal government.

"It's phenomenal," HISD school board member Greg Meyers said. "I think teachers are really going to buy into this. And this shows that the White House has really bought into it."

Other teachers are eligible for incentives under a $10 million program launched by Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year. The state program distributed $100,000 grants to 100 low-income schools that improved test scores.

Students at Frost Elementary School, where the grant was unveiled Tuesday morning, gasped when the oversized $11.8 million check was unveiled.

Jonathan Sullivan, 8, recommended his teacher, Thisha Wilkerson.

"She's nice and she does nice stuff for us. Sometimes she lets us go outside if we're good."


— Jennifer Radcliffe
Houston Chronicle


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