Memorial, Noonan, Mary R. in contention

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

For the second year in a row, Alice ISD has several campuses in the running for a Texas Educator Excellence Grant from the Texas Education Agency.

Memorial Intermediate School, Noonan Elementary School and Mary R. Garcia Elementary School will receive funding by July 2008 if they meet the criteria for the grant.

AISD had five campuses receive TEEG funding this summer, based on their students' population and TAKS score achievements. All together, those campuses received nearly $300,000 in teacher salary incentives. This year's group could receive as much as $165,000 in educator incentives.

Mary R. Garcia could receive a total of $40,000. The 10 classroom teachers on campus would receive as much as $3,000, while another 11 employees, including administrators, secretaries, clerks, specialists and support staff would divide the other 25 percent, if awarded.

Noonan Elementary School applied for $75,000 in the TEEG. The 27 teachers in core subject areas would divide up $56,250, while those 17 employees considered teacher aides will divide $5,598.72. The remaining portion will go towards the principal, secretary, parental coordinator, counselor and librarian.

Memorial Intermediate School applied for $50,000 in the grant process, with 21 classroom teachers in the core TAKS areas possibly receiving $37,500 in incentives. Band teachers, physical education teachers and music/choir teachers will divide $1,850, and an additional 33 employees in administration and support staff will receive a total of $10,650, if awarded.

AISD Superintendent Henry Herrera said the grant process not only acknowledges the hard work conducted by teachers and staff, but also places a large amount of responsibility into the hands of the site-based decision-making committees on each campus, which decide individually how the funds are to be distributed based on the grant guidelines.

"In the values added component, the state will look at past campus results and the level of difficulty in the criteria set by the SBDMs," Herrera said.

If a campus recently had a strong increase in TAKS performance and then sets the bar too low when it comes to the standards they set to meet on the next round of testing, the state could decide the campus made the criteria too easy to accomplish, and not award grant funding. The incentives not only acknowledge hard work done in the classroom, but also promote increases in student test scores.

"It's a good situation for all concerned," Herrera said.

According to the application, if a teacher leaves or retires after the 2007-2008 school year, it will not affect the distribution of funds. However, in the event a teacher leaves or retires before the end of the year, the distribution of funds will be prorated and shared with the incoming teacher so long as the criteria have been met.