In an effort to encourage remaining unvaccinated staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees approved a one-time $250 stipend incentive July19.
The board voted in favor of the motion, 5-2, with trustees Kathy Hanson and Margie Villalpando dissenting. Every district employee who has already been vaccinated or does so by October, when the stipend will be distributed, will receive the stipend.
Trustee Miguel Arredondo on Wednesday said as Gov. Greg Abbott “has taken away all of our local tools,” such as requiring masking and offering the option of virtual learning, the board saw this measure as a way to incentivize the estimated 25% of staff that so far have not opted to receive the vaccine.
The school district estimates that the measure will cost approximately $300,000.
Speaking to Community Impact Newspaper on Thursday, trustee Anne Halsey said the pandemic obviously is not over. “It is incumbent on us to do whatever we can do to convince our staff to get as close to 100% as possible,” Halsey said.
The board also considered adding two additional sick days for district teachers and staff as part of the incentive, but the motion failed 3-4, with trustees Arredondo, Halsey and Mejia voting in favor.
“Part of my hesitation to approving this is that I don’t know what the possible impact on the budget would be,” said trustee Mari Salmi, adding that she views the current 10 days off staff already receive is standard.
The board also tabled a vote on whether to create a citizens advisory commission on single-member redistricting once the U.S. Census data comes in. At issue is how to set up a commission in terms of appointing citizens to it, the number of participants and how long it would take for them to independently draft or adjust the school board districts.
“They want community input in regards to redistricting, but there was no action taken,” said Andrew Fernandez, director of communications for San Marcos CISD.
Trustee Halsey said the board is obligated “to be as fair and transparent as possible,” rather than give the appearance that members are just drawing their own districts to their liking.
The board will take up the citizens advisory commission again in August.