SAN ANTONIO — Nearly 200 San Antonio Independent School District teachers are all but guaranteed stipends worth at least $15,000 next year thanks, in part, to a new Texas education initiative.
SAISD says it's submitted 193 teachers for the pay increases. About 30 of those educators will qualify for stipends worth between $28,500 and $36,500.
The average qualifying SAISD teacher already makes nearly $60,000 each year. The district's best teachers in its poorest schools could earn more than $100,000 if they continue other responsibilities like coaching and extracurricular instruction.
"This will create an aspiration for excellence," SAISD chief strategy, talent, and innovation officer Mohammed Choudhury said. "The adult in front of the classroom matters most. We want to have the most game-changing teachers who change the trajectory of a child's path because of the education they provide for them."
Lawmakers overhauled the Texas education funding mechanism and paid for the program during the 2019 legislative session. Under the new initiative, Texas will essentially pay its school districts to re-think how teacher success is assessed and compensated.
San Antonio ISD is one of ten school districts that met the state's criteria and qualifies for the first pot of money.
SAISD teachers are eligible when their principal deems them excellent in the classroom and if those teachers' students regularly outperform testing expectations. Districts submit their best teachers' names to the Texas Education Agency and Texas Tech for final review and validation.
Funding allocations are tilted toward poorer school districts and schools with greater socioeconomic need, determined by a formula that accounts for area median income, home-ownership rates, and a comprehensive list of other metrics for socioeconomic status.
"The historical inequities that have shaped the lives of these children now give them an edge to recruit some of the best teachers in Texas," Choudhury said. "Or, districts can convince the teachers they already have to become the best teachers and remain."
As long as they do not leave the school district, teachers will continue earning the full amount of their stipend for at least five years. The district will reassess teacher performance every five years to determine if they still meet its standards for excellence.
The state can designate its instructors as Recognized, Exemplary, or Master teachers based on district recommendations and data. Each designation nets a different stipend amount.
Thanks to a 2016 tax increase, SAISD will tack $10,000 onto each state-funded stipend. In return, teachers are expected to work 20 additional days each year and four additional hours each week.