By Tony Farkas
SHEPHERD — The Shepherd ISD Board of Managers approved a 5 percent raise for the district and adopted a 4-day week pilot program for the 2023-24 school year.
At its regular meeting on Thursday, the board discussed upcoming budget realities, which include teacher compensation. DeAnna Clavell, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations, said that currently school district budgets average 70 to 75 percent salary, but now are approaching 80 to 82 percent.
Salaries are a key component to attracting and retaining teachers, and given that the district’s budget has a $3 million “cushion,” Clavell offered several options for the board to consider, which included different percentages of increase as well as retention and signing bonuses.
She said that any of the options will keep the district competitive while remaining below the 80 percent level of annual budgets. She also said that there still are questions on what will be required of districts after this year’s legislative session.
While board members expressed concern about the overall cost of raises to the budget, they were equally interested in keeping the district on its upward track in education. However, Superintendent Jason Hewitt said that regardless of what option the board picked — 5 percent raise, or either 3 or 2 percent raises with $2,500 retention and signing bonuses — the administrative staff will sell it in order to get the best teachers for the district.
The board opted unanimously to budget for a 5 percent increase, which is estimated to cost $880,000.
In a related matter, the board approved a 4-day week “pilot program” for the district following several meeting in the community and several polls being taken in the previous month.
Hewitt said it was another offering the district had to attract and retain teachers, and that the community, based on poll results, had “pretty much made up its mind” about keeping the schedule.
This year, SISD was on a hybrid 4-day schedule.
Based on polling, 87 percent of those polled were in favor of the 4-day week.
Hewitt did say the schedule was referred to as a pilot program in case there are directives from the state that would require the school to return to a 5-day week.
In other business, the board:
•held a public hearing on the district’s Texas Academic Performance Report, and highlighted the gains made by the students. In the measured areas, Shepherd outperformed state and regional averages in 10 of the 14 categories;
•approved purchases of window security film, items for the Early Development Center and paving of a driveway for the Middle School; and
•approved renewing the contract for Director of Teaching and Learning Tammie Hewitt.