Austin ISD trustees approve one-time $1,000 payment to district staff

Austin ISD teachers and staff, the majority of which have been working on campus since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, will receive a $1,000 incentive in March. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD teachers and staff, the majority of which have been working on campus since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, will receive a $1,000 incentive in March. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

Austin ISD teachers and staff, the majority of which have been working on campus since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, will receive a $1,000 incentive in March. (Courtesy Austin ISD)

An estimated 11,205 Austin ISD employees will receive an extra $1,000 on paychecks, possibly as soon as March 12.

The district’s board of trustees on Feb. 11 approved the one-time $1,000 retention incentive for district staff in an effort to acknowledge the extra efforts and hardships staff have faced as front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AISD full-time and part-time staff with salaries less than $150,000 will receive the $1,000 retention incentive. Employees categorized as temporary staff and substitute teachers are not eligible, according to the district.

The approved resolution was an amended version of a proposal announced by the district earlier this week. Initially, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde had recommended that $1,000 go to full-time staff, with about 650 part-time employees receiving $500 each.

Trustees asked the district to distribute the $1,000 incentive across the board after hearing public testimony from some part-time staffers.

“We believe that [part-time employee's] hard work, and the fact that many have to have two or three part time jobs to make ends meet, certainly deserve the extra money,” said Education Austin President Ken Zarifis during public comment Feb. 11. “With this line item already being about $12 million, the cost will be around [an additional] $400,000 to include the part-time employees. We believe that’s a very reasonable ask, and would ask that you move to add them into the $1,000 payout for all employees.”

According to the resolution, the retention incentive will come from a fund the district has set aside for health insurance accounts. Although Elizalde said the district is running at a budget deficit overall, that fund has a surplus. AISD cannot access that money directly, but it will temporarily stop allocating new funds to the insurance account in order to make the $1,000 payments to staff.

“We recognize that right now, for whatever reason, over the last few years there has been money that has been put in this [insurance] account, and we have not needed to expend that account at the same rate that it must have been done in years before,” Elizalde said. “What we can do is we can cease putting the money into that account for a couple of months, still keeping us very solvent, but freeing up [funds]. We could utilize that money in a different way.”


Photo of the Sobering Center
Travis County moves forward with plans for mental health diversion program at Sobering Center

The program would divert people experiencing mental health crises away from jail and towards supportive services following low-level offenses.

Baylor Scott & White Pflugerville
Ascension, Baylor Scott & White to require all employees be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by fall

Ascension and Baylor Scott & White have announced all eligible employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months. 

Photo of an egg dish
Kerbey Lane Cafe serves the Austin community with 'family feeling'

Since 1980, the cafe has served up breakfast, lunch and dinner at locations around the Capital City.

Austin City Council will convene for a regular meeting July 29, its first since mid-June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council to look at downtown safety, homelessness and budgeting in return from meetings break

The first regular council meeting since mid-June features a packed agenda and opportunity for resident feedback on Austin's proposed budget.

Photo of a hand holding a vaccine vial
As COVID-19 hospitalizations track upward, Austin Public Health renews call for vaccinations

APH also mirrors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in some circumstances.

The request to table talks regarding designated campsites came one week after city staff detailed two properties that could be used for such an initiative. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ellis, Harper-Madison call for halt to Austin's 'Band-Aid' sanctioned homeless encampment plans

The East and Southwest Austin representatives shared their thoughts on the process one week after city properties in their districts were tapped as workable encampment sites.

Photo of a woman holding a Pride flag
Austin July and August events: Bat Fest, monster trucks and Pride

A variety of in-person and virtual events are happening around Austin this summer.

Photo of a house with a "for sale" sign in the front yard
A seller’s market in Southwest Austin continues to challenge homebuyers

Local experts say a "perfect storm" of construction obstacles continue to restrict home supply.

The CDC reversed its masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals in response to the transmissibility of the delta variant of COVID-19 in a press conference July 27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
NEW CDC GUIDANCE: All individuals should wear masks in K-12 schools, including those who are fully vaccinated

The new CDC guidance, announced July 27, also recommends people in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

Several Southwest Austin offices included thousands of square feet of space available for sublease as of early 2021. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwest Austin office subleasing positioned to cool off amid return to in-person work

Southwest Austin's sublease availability more than tripled from early 2019 into 2021, although the market may be shifting away from that trend as offices are reoccupied this year.

The monthslong search for Austin's new police chief is expected to wrap up before the end of August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Search for Austin's next top cop narrows to 7 finalists; new chief to be named by end of August

Seven finalists from across the country remain in the search for Austin's next police chief, the city announced July 26.

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning options to students in kindergarten through sixth grade for the 2021-22 school year, according to a July 26 news release from the district. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD plans to offer virtual learning for some students in 2021-22 school year

The district changed course on virtual learning after rising case counts led the local health authority to revert to Stage 4 guidelines, including wearing masks.