5 reasons teacher raises drive San Antonio ISD’s stimulus plan

Master teacher salaries will reach $100,000, compared to the state average of $60,000
By: | April 30, 2021
Stimulus funding will give San Antonio ISD master teachers substantial raises to will work an extra 20 days next school year.Stimulus funding will give San Antonio ISD master teachers substantial raises to will work an extra 20 days next school year.

Teacher salaries, particularly increasing master teacher pay, is San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez’s stimulus funding priority.

The district’s $170 million in American Rescue Plan funding will accelerate an ongoing initiative to elevate and compensate its best teachers, Martinez says.

“We can leverage them to help us close gaps with students, gaps that have been created by the pandemic,” Martinez says. “We want to accelerate and support students and give them more time with our strongest teachers.”

Here are the key points of Martinez’s recovery play.

1. Adding instructional time: San Antonio ISD will add 30 days to its instructional calendar between July 2021 and June 2022.

More from DA: Why 2 districts intend to hire teachers with stimulus funds

2. Adding teacher time: The master teachers getting raises will work an extra 20 days—about four hours a week—next school year. Their salaries will reach $100,000, compared to the state average of $60,000.

“In our legacy master teacher initiative, we’ve elevated about 600 teachers, and they’ve helped turn around low-performing schools,” Martinez says.

3. Building the pipeline: The funding also will allow the district to develop its next cohort of master teachers.

4. Setting recovery goals: Teacher salaries will help leaders and educators at each school craft their own COVID recovery plan, starting with summer school. Building leaders are currently meeting with parents to gather input.

San Antonio ISD's master teacher initiative has been key to turning around the district's low-performing schools.

Unlike in the past, teachers will be paid their full rate for working summer school, Martinez says.

“Summer school will not be about remediation our low-performance,” Martinez says. “We want kids to be excited to come back to school. We want it to be a summer full of enrichment—it’s going to be fine arts, athletics, ROTC as well as STEM and robotics camps.”

5. Social-emotional support: San Antonio ISD is also expanding partnerships with community agencies to bring more social workers to schools. Currently, the district has about 30 social workers for its 100 buildings.

Martinez’s goal is to place a social worker in every school.

The district’s parent advisory group will also help inform the social-emotional support the district will provide over the next several months.

More from DA: Teacher pay raises, and 2 more COVID funding concerns

Parents have shared that students, particularly those who have remained in distance learning, are contending with feelings of isolation and disengagement, Martinez says.

“As students are coming back, we’re seeing some of the effects,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re not disciplining students but providing support because this is something we’ve never been through, something we’re all going through together.”

Time to be aggressive

Martinez is fully aware that the funding is only in place for the next three years, and that there probably won’t be another $170 million financial injection at the end of that time period.

That will require the district leaders to determine which spending they will need to sustain after 2024, Martinez says.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us,” he says. “I hope districts are aggressive. There are always challenges around sustainability but we have three-and-a-half years to figure out which portions will go away and which need to be sustained.”