MISSION — Board members for the Mission Consolidated Independent School District on Tuesday voted to grandfather its current 12-month service employees to keep their paid vacation time and holiday pay.
Anyone hired after June 7, however, will not be eligible for paid vacations or holidays. Additionally, the district is changing their amount of service to the district from 260 days to 244 days. Current employees will remain in the 260-day calendar and also receive 16 days of paid vacation and holidays. MCISD officials said the change was made in an effort to save money.
Mario A. Solis, MCISD’s assistant superintendent for human resources and student services, said under the previous proposed plan, which would have included all 12-month employees, the district could have saved about $273,000.
Now the district will slowly accumulate those savings as current employees leave the district and new employees are hired.
“I’m totally against this,” said board Vice President Moises Iglesias before the vote to approve the measure. “It’s not really gonna benefit the district until five or 10 years down the road.”
Solis said a number of employees in this program are set to retire soon. He also explained other neighboring districts like McAllen have implemented this program, as well.
“We want to attract people, not scare them off,” Iglesias argued.
Other trustees, like Secretary Patty Bazaldua said the current economy and lack of jobs will motivate people to take jobs, despite not being given benefits like vacation.
“Districts are becoming more frugal as far as what they want,” Solis said of changes in benefits at local school districts.
The matter passed with Iglesias and President James Olivarez voting against the elimination of benefits.
In other action, board members approved the continuation of the C-SCOPE curriculum, which some teachers had previously said was difficult to work with. Administrators said this will be the fifth year the district has used the curriculum and explained they were now expecting all campuses and teachers to use the system. To avoid any problems with operating the system, staff development and summer academies would be held responsible to help staff adjust to the program.
Trustees said they were hesitant to continue working with the curriculum if there were problems reported by teachers. Administrators and principals, however, said the program worked well.
“We’re placed in a difficult position” to renew the contract, said member Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez.
The district pays a little over $100,000 each year to have the curriculum.
Aurora Delgado, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the district would be able to best judge the success of the program after the upcoming school year with the results of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness or STAAR, which will replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills TAKS exam.
“You have one year to make sure it’s going to work,” Iglesias told MCISD staff.
MCISD trustees also heard a level-three grievance from contract employees who claimed the district asked them to sign a “vague and open ended” contract. While grievances are typically heard in executive session, the group involved in the grievance wanted the hearing in public session.
Dohn Larson, an attorney with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, said the April 18 contract also didn’t fully explain any firm dates of employment these staff members would be called to work.
Additionally, Larson said the district’s contract stated the pay could be cut by five percent.
“It’s not contract language,” Larson said.
MCISD attorney David Hansen said the contract was applicable to state laws.
“The assumption is that the board is going to break the law,” he said.
Contracts typically are vague in the compensation section because the state may not have completed its budget, and the district itself doesn’t have set numbers on its budget in April, either.
The contract states the district will make potential cuts, up to five percent in this case, after it adopts its salary schedule, which is typically done in August. MCISD officials said they were preparing for future budget cuts that will ultimately soon affect pay.
Olivarez said the district included the five percent cut language in the contract to “share the pain” in the upcoming budget cuts. The same language appeared in all contracts for teachers and administrators. But it still remains unknown if the district will even have to make any of those cuts, he explained. The notice of the cut, however, needed to be made to employees.
“We understand why you would have caution,” O’Caña-Olivarez told MCISD teachers and staff who packed into the meeting room.
Trustees voted to uphold their previous decision in the level-two grievance to keep the contracts as they were issued. Trustee Raymond Longoria voted against the motion.
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