On Friday, May 2, 2014, Superintendent H.T. Sánchez announced several initiatives in support of teachers and aimed at improving instruction throughout the district in conjunction with Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-10. Among the initiatives:
• Reduced class sizes; staffing ratio changed. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the ratio for second grade and above will average one teacher for every 27 students. The kindergarten and first grade ratio will average one teacher for 24 students. In the higher grades, this is a significant change. Some classes have been as large 40 students this year.
"What we're doing is shifting our dollars to show our priority. Our priority is with our people who teach the most important people in our district which are our students," Dr. Sánchez said. "Class size is critical to that because teaching is about building relationships, and it's difficult to build a relationship with 40 people in a class. It's a little better when you have 27 people in a class. You can build a relationship there."
The reduction will strengthen first-level instruction so teachers can better address student needs and will lighten the reliance on interventionists.
• $4.4 million reallocated to schools. Despite losing more state funding, TUSD is strengthening the instructional budget by reallocating a minimum of $4.4 million from central administrative budgets into the classroom to support improving student achievement.
• Support positions shifted to school sites. More than 140 non-instructional positions currently assigned to central administration will be reassigned into the schools for 2014-2015. These include positions such as dropout prevention specialists, academic specialists, intervention specialists and community representatives. They will work under the supervision of and in collaboration with campus principals and campus leadership.
• Teacher salary adjustment. The district is conducting a district-wide teacher salary adjustment program. In phase one, TUSD is spending more than $1 million to adjust classroom teacher salaries to ensure current teachers do not make less than new hires with equal years of experience. The district is projecting to spend nearly $5 million over the next couple of years to adjust salaries of all teachers affected by this salary gap.
• Reduction in force eliminated. TUSD is honoring teachers by eliminating the end-of-year reduction in force process so teachers know they have a position next year and retain their benefits as staffing needs are determined.
• Teacher contracts issued early. Teacher contracts were offered earlier this year so that teachers know they have a job with TUSD and the district can retain its work force.
• Help for our retiring teachers. The district is extending benefits to retiring teachers to provide them comfort knowing they have benefits through the summer. This will also provide retirees to announce their intentions earlier, which allows the district to better project future staffing needs.
TUSD appreciates all of its teachers for the work they do every day to educate our children. Thank you, teachers!