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LA-JOYA-LOGOLA JOYA — Despite projected state budget hardships, board members for the La Joya Independent School District gave its employees a one-time $750 supplemental pay before heading on their winter break.

While most schools are making major cuts, LJISD officials said they were pleased to be able to give their employees the bonus just before the holidays. Officials stressed the stipend would be a one-time effort that was made possible by taxpayers.

Board Member Jose A. “Fito” Salinas said the approval of the tax rollback election helped the district issue the stipend. If the tax rollback had not passed, the stipend would not have been possible, he explained.

While the state is expected to be cutting about 13 percent of the school’s budget next year, the stipend would not impede the success of the district or cause financial troubles, district leaders stressed.

“Our district is financially good. We’re okay,” emphasized Board Member Espie Ochoa. “Despite the state cutting, it is not going to hinder anybody.”

Ochoa explained the stipend would not hinder school programs, initiatives or curriculum.

In other items:

• The district recognized its Gold Performance Awardees. Lloyd M. Bentsen Elementary received six of the seven possible awards they could receive. The school received awards for attendance, commended reading, math and science and comparable improvement in reading and math.

• The school board discussed the Small Learning Communities – Creating Connections to College initiative that is being implemented at all three high schools. The program focuses on enhanced learning, academic performance and increasing graduation rates and college readiness.

The program starts at the ninth-grade level, helping freshmen transition from the eighth-grade to high school and getting prepared for college.

The program is in partnership with Region One and is being financed through a grant. Next year, the district will partner with South Texas College and University of Texas-Pan American.

• The board approved opening three police officer positions to assist in addressing security matters at the three high schools. The need for additional officers is a result of an increase involving gang activity.

• Senior Angel Banda and junior Emily Perez from Juarez-Lincoln High School were recognized for their cross-country achievements. Banda walked away with a silver medal at the Class 4A UIL state cross-country meet held in Austin in November. Perez ranked fifth in the state competition.

• Two individuals were recognized for their outstanding service to the Texas Migrant Education Program.

Mary Sauceda, a migrant recruiter for LJISD, was recognized for her 27 years of services in the Migrant Department by receiving the Migrant Recruiter Service Award.

According to the recognition, Sauceda has been a loyal, devoted and hard working employee.

“As a former farm worker she understands the struggles that our students face,” said Superintendent Alda Benavides.

Isabel Estela Rodriguez received the Paraprofessional Service Award. She has been employed with LJISD for 24 years. She has served all but two of those years with the Texas Migrant Education Program.

She was described as a dependable and responsible individual that has helped the LJISD Migrant Education Department become the successful program.

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