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LJISD board of trustees passes individual choice referendum election for Medicare

38 staff members at LJISD got good news during this week’s board meeting.

The La Joya Independent School District Board of Trustees held a regular meeting this Wednesday, and passed an individual choice referendum election for Medicare coverage of 38 employees.

LJISD Logo“It’s an individual choice,” said Dr. Alda Benavides, Superintendent of Schools. “That means we’ll have a referendum election for these 38 members and only these 38 members will get to vote.”

Medicare started in April 1986, and anyone that was already employed by the district has not been paying into Medicare.

“This item will allow for those 38 people to decide individually if they want to contribute to Medicare,” Benavides said. “So they get to vote. The district will pay 1.45 percent of their salary for those 38 employees, and the employees will pay the other 1.45.”

A group of people erupted into cheers when the motion was passed by the board.

“We’re very excited to bring this forth to La Joya ISD,” said Board President Armin Garza. “It’s for a very special population, these are our administrators and our teachers who have been with La Joya ISD for a number of years, the majority over 30 years. I think it’s very beneficial to all of them.”

The employees will get to vote on whether they want Medicare coverage.

Three principals presented their plans for improving the overall letter grades and distinction designations for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) 2019 ratings and distinctions. This year, LJISD received an overall letter grade of a “B” from TEA.

The board has listened to other principals speak on how they intend to bring up their scores. During this meeting, Jose Garcia, the principal at Domingo Treviño Middle School, Maria Flores-Guerra, the principal at Evangelina Garza Elementary School and Carly Salinas, the principal at Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School presented their plans and courses of action.

Garcia said Treviño Middle School hopes to move from a “C” rating to an “A” rating during the course of this year.
“We’re building relationships with community members, with parents, with students, with our teachers and staff,” Garcia said. “We are celebrating a welcoming culture at our school and our commitment, of course, is to all stakeholders.”

In addition, his campus aims to increase the rigor of the programs offered and motivate students to achieve.

“We have high expectations,” Garcia said. “Since day one, we set goals, we communicate that to our teachers, we sit together, we plan. Our goal is to earn all distinctions, and most important is to help La Joya ISD earn a post-secondary distinction, which we deserve.”

Flores-Guerra also said that their goal is to change their letter grade from a “C” to an “A” rating, and they aspire to achieve all distinctions from TEA.

“We are delivering more rigorous lessons, we have focused data conversations, we have class visits where we focus feedback not only to teachers, but to the kids as well,” Flores-Guerra said, explaining what the school has already begun doing. “We also have many campus-wide activities.”
One of the focuses at Garza Elementary is reading, and they have been promoting that with their students.

“Reading is fundamental,” Flores-Guerra said. “Our challenge is to make sure that every child is reading. On a daily basis we are making sure that the kids are reading and testing on at least one book on Reading Renaissance.”

Salinas has a two-year plan to change her campus score from a “C” to an “A” rating.

“The big message that I’m sharing with our staff and that our team is sharing with our staff is that we are unlocking the potential,” Salinas said. “I want you to be assured that you have a team at Dr. Saenz Middle School that believes in our students and believes that the potential is there to rise.”

The first thing that they have focused on at Dr. Saenz is attendance. Salinas said they have been going over the data and that’s one of the first areas to be addressed.

“Attendance is very important,” Salinas said. “We do visuals, we do daily announcements, we are making phone calls to parents. We are having three weeks incentives.”

The board expressed that all principals and staff have their full support, and they hope to see the schools improve over the next year.

The meeting included the retirement of the LJISD Police Department K9 Lobo, who has served the district for 10 years. The board passed a motion to accept a new canine detection dog named Ace, who was found as a stray and trained to work for the PD.

There were several recognitions given during the board meeting. The board recognized campuses that TEA said met standard and earned distinction designations in performance areas.

Principals from each campus were called forward and given an award for their efforts in leading their students and staff to do well in the 2017-2018 school year. Cesar Chavez Middle School, Ann Richards Middle School, John F. Kennedy Elementary School and Elodia R. Chapa Elementary School met all the standards and received all distinctions set by TEA.

The board of trustees also recognized 23 teachers who had perfect attendance for the 2017-2018 school year.

“This is a big, big accomplishment, and we’re very proud,” Benavides said. “And how they did it, I don’t know, but we’re really proud.”

“We know that as educators, teacher attendance is invaluable for student success,” Dr. Anysia Treviño, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources added as she presented the teachers who achieved perfect attendance. “For no one can replace a classroom teacher.”

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