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shraryland-logoMISSION — The Sharyland Independent School District is considering revising its early resignation policy to include all contract employees as a way to cut down on expenditures before having to terminate over a dozen probationary educators.

“We have to make some tough choices up ahead to know where we stand,” Superintendent Scott Owings said of possible terminations.

The new policy would allow any contract employee that decides to resign or retire at the end of the school year to receive an incentive plan.

Under the proposed plan, contract employees would earn $50 a day for up to 20 days of local unused sick leave at a maximum of $1,000. Any contract employee would have to notify the human services department no later than March 1. Anyone who participates in the plan will complete their assigned work schedule for the school year.

District officials said there are a number of employees who are considering retiring, and their leaving the district will open up a slot for a probationary educator.

Currently, the policy is open to retiring educators. SISD trustees will vote on the issue on Feb. 22.

At a recent committee meeting, members also discussed criteria for probationary teacher contracts.

By law, probationary teachers must be evaluated and their contracts discussed 45 days prior to the end of the school year. The district currently has 126 one-, two- and three-year probationary teachers.

The school district has developed objective criteria to be considered for renewals of probationary contracts. These criteria may be considered in whole or in part in making the decision to renew or terminate a probationary teachers contract.

SISD officials said they’d look at certifications in critical shortage or high-enrollment course areas, assignments in specialty areas that meet the needs of the district, professional background and experience, and appraisals and other performance evaluations in deciding on teacher contracts.

According to the policy, probationary teachers not meeting any of the criteria would have their contracts terminated at the end of the contract based on “best interest of the school district.”

“If somebody is below expectations…they will be cut loose,” Owings said.

SISD does not want to terminate anyone, he added, but up to 14 probationary teachers could be let go at the end of the year. The number of terminated employees depends on budget cuts and how many employees retire or resign before March.

The difficulty lies in not knowing how drastic budget cuts will be until May or June, while local decisions have to be made in April, Owings said.

Board members said they want to be careful that the quality teachers are not let go.

Owings said the quality of education is the top concern and the criteria will be used across the board. No probationary teacher will get special treatment.

Any probationary teachers terminated could be rehired by the district if another educator leaves or is fired from the district.

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