October 1, 2023

FBISD Board passes resolution supporting Administration’s decision to offer one-time retention and recruitment payments for designated safety, security, health positions

Fort Bend ISD – The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees has passed a resolution in support of the Administration’s decision to offer one-time retention and recruitment payments to current and newly-hired employees who work in positions that most directly impact the safety, security and health of students and staff.

The Board passed the resolution at a specially called noon meeting on Thursday, supporting the goal of not only making FBISD campuses safer and healthier – which is always the District’s top priority – but also with the intention of promoting employee morale.

Positions eligible for the one-time retention and recruitment payments are police officers, special education teachers, special education aides, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, bus drivers and bus monitors. In addition to the safety and health component, these positions have also been identified as staffing areas where the District has the greatest need.

Supplements of $1,000 will be paid to current full time, benefits-eligible FBISD employees and new hires in the designated positions listed above. Bus drivers and monitors will receive $500. Part time bus drivers and monitors who are not benefits-eligible will receive $250.

Candidates who join FBISD by December 31, 2022, will be eligible to receive the recruitment supplement payment. Current designated employees will receive their supplement on September 15, 2022.

“With a budget deficit of $50 million, the decision to pay the supplemental incentives was a challenging one as we continue to work hard to reduce the shortfall and increase revenues,” FBISD Superintendent Dr. Christie Whitbeck said. “But I felt strongly about doing this because the safety, health and wellbeing of our students is always our most important objective. If we don’t have that, learning cannot effectively take place.”

Dr. Whitbeck acknowledged that the supplements do not include all teachers and staff, but “it came down to a decision point of doing something that we are able to do now to address our areas of highest need – or doing nothing. We chose to do what we can right now,” she said.

Feedback from FBISD principals and other personnel has repeatedly included the need to shore up special education staffing. They have stated that when special education students receive the services they need, the entire campus runs smoother. Despite the budget shortfall, the District has already added 27 special education positions for the new school year and is in the process of adding additional programs to support children with the most severe needs.

In reviewing positions that support student and staff safety, security and health, the Administration considered current vacancies that are greater than they have been in recent years and areas where application numbers are lower than usual.

The supplemental payments amount to $2.1 million and will come from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. During the District’s year-end financial reconciliation process, some expenses funded by ESSER money came in less than anticipated which allowed approximately $2 million to fund the supplemental payments.

Substitute staff and temporary employees are not eligible for the payments.

The Board and Dr. Whitbeck emphasized during the meeting, the Administration’s commitment to continue analyzing every sector of the District’s operations and finances in search of opportunities to provide additional compensation for other staff groups. Trustees and the Superintendent reiterated the respect and appreciation they have for all FBISD staff members and asked for patience as the work continues to improve the District’s financial outlook.

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