HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Two weeks into virtual learning, school board members at the Hays Consolidated Independent School District are considering a pay increase for all employees and additional incentives for many.
In a workshop this week, members discussed a 1% raise for all employees, translating to about $1.6 million across the school district.
Board members approved a 2% raise in June.
The board also discussed adding a $250 incentive for custodial and child nutrition workers during December and May as well as increasing the minimum wage for bus drivers from $16.48/hour to $17.01/hour.
The board is set to vote on all items Monday, the same day that Hays CISD schools will be welcoming students back to campus.
Substitute teacher shortage
Hays CISD’s school board will also consider increasing guest teacher pay by $5.
Superintendent Eric Wright says they usually have about 400 substitute teachers on rotation. Right now, they only have 180.
“We didn’t know if it was a financial rational or because our sub pool is actually having to stay home and work virtually with their own children… We don’t know if they’re fearful to come back because of the coronavirus,” he said.
He says COVID-19 is also the reason why they need more guest teachers on standby.
“I’m speaking in hypotheticals but say a teacher contracts the coronavirus, and then they’re going to be quarantined for 14 days. Obviously, I’m going to need a substitute to take over that classroom,” Wright said.
It’s an obstacle Allison Castillo felt her school district might be facing. This will be her second year as a substitute.
“It’s just very important to me to give a role model for the students,” she said. “Someone that’s going to help them for their future, not just through education but just like growing them up to be a good person.”
Castillo previously worked at Hays CISD as a special education teacher and coach. She says the pay bumps and bonuses would send a good message.
“It really is letting me know hey like our district is taking care of us,” Castillo said.
But she hopes people will see another motivation.
“When you think of it in terms of community, it’s a little bit more motivating and it’s a little bit of saying, ‘Hey, I get to be a part of something that’s really important,'” Castillo said.
Superintendent Eric Wright said he hopes the pay increases and incentives will attract applicants for critical openings while also offering a morale boost for current employees who have taken on extra COVID-19-related training and duties.
School board members are also considering increasing the budget for cleaning supplies from about $85,500 to $100,000 due to increased cleaning protocols related to COVID-19.