This article originally appeared in the Friday Aug. 16, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
The Mission Consolidated Independent School District approved a program that will provide an incentive for good attendance.
This Wed. Aug. 14, 2019, the board of trustees held a regular meeting at MCISD. One of the items on the agenda had to do with the discussion and approval of the Attendance Incentive Program.
The program is specifically for classroom teachers, Transportation Department bus drivers and Child Nutrition Program cooks/servers, cooks/cashiers, CNP warehouse drivers and CNP managers. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Student Services Lorena Garcia presented the program to the board.
“In an effort to reduce employee absenteeism in several departments as well as teachers, we’re looking to improve student outcomes by providing several incentive programs that target this,” Garcia said. “It will also help reduce costs and increase employee retention as well as improvement.”
TEACHER INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Full-time teachers at MCISD will be eligible for this incentive. According to Garcia, a teacher may earn up to $500 a semester for perfect attendance.
“There’s a potential of earning a maximum of $1000 per school year,” Garcia said. “The incentive will be paid in December, because oftentimes employees love to get that extra Christmas money to spend before they leave. In June they would receive the second semester payout along with their payroll check.”
The Payroll Department at MCISD will publicly recognize those who qualify with a check recognition from their principals.
“Each time that an eligible employee uses state or federal employee uses state or local discretionary leave, they can have up to two absences per semester,” Garcia said. “That would reduce their incentive a little bit, but they would still qualify.”
Between Thurs. Aug. 15 and Dec. 12, if an employee qualifies with perfect attendance they will receive the full $500. Missing one day changes that incentive to $375, then $250 with two absences.
“If they’re absent more than two times, they would not be eligible for that semester payout,” Garcia said. “For the second semester, it’s the same process.”
TRANSPORTATION DEPT. INCENTIVE PROGRAM
According to Garcia, MCISD along with districts across the state has been struggling to recruit and retain bus drivers for transportation due to a competitive market.
“We are recommending an incentive of up to $125 for every two-month period,” Garcia said of this plan. “At the end of that period, the last month, there’s about 15 work days, so for that, from May 7 to May 28 it would be $100 for perfect attendance and zero trip refusals.”
Perfect attendance runs from Aug. 25 through May 28, and there is a potential for up to $600 per school year. If they receive perfect attendance and have zero trip refusals, they would receive $300 in the first semester.
“One absence and one trip refusal, and they will still receive $250,” Garcia said. “Two absences and two trip refusals will be $200. After more than two absences they would no longer qualify, and the same goes for the second semester.”
This program includes a recruitment incentive.
“Any transportation auxiliary staff member that makes a referral for the employment of a CDL bus driver, they qualify for a $200 incentive, which would be paid out after the first 90 days of employment of that new CDL bus driver,” Garcia said. “And there is no limit to the number of times that they can submit referrals.”
CNP INCENTIVE PROGRAM
This program is similar to the Transportation Dept. incentive program, but there are no trip refusals.
“It is up to $600 per year, $300 per semester,” Garcia said. “If they have one absence it reduces it to $250 per semester, and two absences to $200. In addition to that, we are also recommending, through the Child Nutrition Program, to provide a discount to all school district employees for 50 percent off all the lunch meals from the cafeteria, which would be $2 per meal.”
They also recommended that principals eat for free, because they rarely get a chance to leave campus to buy a meal.
The board asked why teacher aides or security guards were not included in the incentive program, and Superintendent Carol Perez said they were aiming at the areas within the district where recruitment and retention were most needed.
“For transportation, we’re going into the new school year with a shortage of 14 bus drivers,” Perez said. “That’s a problem statewide. This is an investment.”
Perez added that the district has a back-up plan for absent security guards through a vendor, and that because of the amount of funding they have allocated toward the incentive program can only stretch so far. Without further questions, the board unanimously approved the implementation of the program.