Education for the Whole Child
Licensed Social Workers in Every School – So much of how our students learn is effected by factors such as their mental health, the safety of their home environment, and their family’s ability to provide their kids with the basics they need outside of the classroom. Our teachers and school counselors do great work to address these needs, but they can’t do it alone. We are calling for a large expansion of our district’s current social work program so that its approach can be proactive instead of just reactive. We will make sure each school in our district has at least one licensed social worker that will work with students, teachers, and parents to ensure our kids have comprehensive access to the resources they need to succeed.
Career and College Counselors in Every High School – Whether success after high school means going to college, attending a vocational program, or jumping into a career, our students need to be prepared for their next steps. As someone who works in enrollment for a college, I know about the kinds of skills that colleges and employers look for in new graduates. We will expand the number of career and college counselors in our high schools as well as their role in showing our students the different paths they have.
Life Skills Course for all High School Students – It’s important that our students aren’t just prepared academically, but that they’re also prepared with real-world skills to be successful on their own. So many regular parts of adult life – paying taxes, planning for retirement, managing household schedules, etc. – are taken for granted as something people either learn on their own or from their parents. The problem is that not every kid has parents that are able to teach these skills to them, and not knowing these things early on can have a lasting impact on them through later adulthood. We will require a mandatory life skills course for all high school students that’s specifically designed to make sure all of our kids leave high school with at least a baseline understanding of these practical skills.
More Programs for Physical Activity and Health – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how poor physical health leads to worse outcomes with diseases. Our schools have the opportunity to help parents in promoting healthy habits for our students to keep them healthy in childhood and into adulthood. We will reexamine the physical education programs at our schools as well as our school meal programs to see how we can use these an opportunities to better improve the health of our students.
Establishing an Arts and Humanities Extracurricular Fund – Participation in extracurricular activities like music and the arts is shown to produce better learning outcomes for kids in their academic subjects. But some activities can cost parents hundreds of dollars a year in fees, materials, and travel costs, making participation harder for lower-income families. We will establish a special Arts and Humanities Extracurricular Fund that will provide as-needed financial assistance to families who otherwise can’t afford for their kids to be a part of these programs.
Giving Teachers and District Employees what they Deserve
$15 Minimum Wage for All District Employees – Did you know that at the lowest rung of our district’s auxiliary pay scale, some of our district employees make as little as $9.78 an hour? It’s unacceptable that we have full-time employees serving our kids and the community who can’t even pay their bills because their wages are too low. Our plan is to do pay scale adjustments over a three-year period to make sure no full-time district employee makes less than $15 an hour.
$1000 Across-the-Board Employee Pay Increase – In addition to the three-year wage increase goal listed earlier, part of that initiative will include a $1000 across-the-board pay increase for all district employees. This increase is something we want to be scheduled as soon as the next budget and effective for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Increase District Contribution to Health Care Plans – Health benefits for Texas schools are funded by a mix of state and district funding. The Texas Legislature allocated $75 per month for employee health benefits in 2002, but that state contribution has not been raised since then. Our state needs to contribute more, but we can’t wait for Austin to act while our district teachers and employees face ever-rising healthcare costs. We will fight for an increase in the district’s contribution to TRS ActiveCare plans to curb the skyrocketing cost of health insurance premiums for our employees.
More Employee Representation for District Decisions – Texas has some of the most extreme laws targeting public sector workers, especially those that work for public school districts. While we can’t control what the state legislature does, we can control what our district will do to value the voices of our teachers and district employees. We will give our district’s workforce a voice by including more representation in the policies that effect them. We will do this by allowing district employees to elect to be represented by a professional organization of their choosing for both individual employee issues and district policy consultation.
Being Smart with our District’s Finances
Establishing the Northside ISD Public Endowment – A common tool that colleges and private schools use to supplement their budgets is the use of an endowment to raise revenue. Endowments work like investment accounts – these entities reinvest money into low-risk funds to generate extra income in the form of interest and value growth. We will establish a public endowment for Northside ISD. The initial endowment will be funded by a mix of charitable donations and an allocation from our yearly budget. The endowment is planned to grow yearly for a certain period of time until we will start incorporating that revenue into our yearly budget.
A “Rainy Day” Fund for Emergencies – As part of our previous proposal, a certain percentage of that new endowment will be earmarked as “Rainy Day” Funds. The purpose of this is to put money aside that the district can use to pay for unexpected or emergency expenses without having to break or alter the current year’s budget.
Seeking Additional Funds Through Grant Writing Programs – Millions of dollars in additional funding can be earned through grants from federal, state, local, and private sources. While the district does already have a grants department, the department is currently structured primarily to assist teachers in applying for their own smaller, private-source grants. We will refurbish our grants department to seek out large grants from federal, state, and local sources that can be applied for initiatives on a school-wide and district-wide basis.