At their regular meeting on July 13, trustees of the Blanco Independent School District approved a salary package for employees which, according to the administration, “strongly supports our goal of recruiting and retaining high quality and highly effective teachers.” The package includes, among other things, raising the salary for beginning teachers from $36,000 to $37,440. The stipend for teachers with a master’s degree will rise from $1000 to $1500; and all teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses who worked in BISD the previous year will receive “Retention Pay” of $800, to be paid one time in November. All other returning employees will receive a supplement of $600. Administrators will receive a 5 percent pay increase, and the position of Director of Special Education Services has been added. The pay for substitute teachers will increase $5 per day. The bus driver salary schedule has been increased by $1.50 per day. Increases in coaching stipends are based on other 2-A districts for a cost to the district of $34,000.
Trustee Bernie San Miguel criticized the proposed salary schedule, which gives smaller raises to more experienced teachers, calling it “a slap in the face.” BHS principal Dustin Barton responded that the discrepancy is common statewide. Trustee Troy Immel commented that having more years of experience does not automatically make a better teacher. The greatest percentage increase in salary is given to teachers in steps 3 through 9; the least to teachers with over 30 years of experience. The total budget for 2009-10 is $2,009,950, up from the 2008-09 budget of $1,955,600.
Dr. Ford announced that Texas Tech University has asked BISD to be part of a Teacher Quality Partnership to train teachers, some of whom may be in rural, low-income areas of the Hill Country. If the Teacher Enhancement Grant is approved, Texas Tech will ask for a commitment to allow teachers-in-training to receive field experience in Blanco Elementary School. The program will encourage high school students who plan to attend community college the opportunity to take dual credit education courses that are transferrable to Tech’s Teacher Education Program. According to Dr. Ford, TTU will “promote and support a ‘college-going culture’ in our high school and work with faculty at all levels to align curriculum and incorporate technology into the classroom.
Dr. Ford also announced that the district was approved for and has received $82,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Title I money, to be used for the Pre-K program.
In other business, trustees approved participation in Region 13’s Shared Services Agreement for a Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. Superintendent Ford called the cost of the program “minimal compared to providing services on our own if we should need to.” Special Education Services Director Kathryn Rutherford called participation “an insurance policy. It pays off in the event that we have students that have this need.” Students who are hard-of-hearing or deaf would be transported to a cluster site either in San Marcos or Fredericksburg. Up to 55 districts within Region 13 will participate in this Shared Services Agreement.
Trustees also voted to recommend a call for bids in the sale of one 53-passenger school bus and a 1989 Chevrolet ¾ ton extended-cab pickup truck. Both vehicles have over 100,000 miles and are “very worn out”, according to transportation director John Moore.
Finally, after executive session, trustees accepted the resignations of Jennifer Lockner (elementary Pre-K), Joe Kocurek (high school math), and Diana Kocurek (high school math.) Contracts were approved for the following: Jennifer Llamas-Hernandez (elementary Pre-K) and Jason Lester (high school social studies/coaching).