Austin ISD Gifts $12,000,000 – Uncle Sam Rejoices

Texas school district makes a one time gift of $12,000,000 to be split between employees and Uncle Sam in an effort to bribe employees from leaving for greener pastures. This is the same district that closed down schools last year and laid off workers due to rising health insurance costs.

Would it have been better to fund a Health Savings Account for all employees instead? Of course Uncle Sam would get nothing in that case while the employees would gain ownership of the entire $12,000,000 gift, tax free, forever………………

Austin ISD employees to get $1,000 bonus in March aimed at keeping them in the district next school year

EDUCATION by: Alex Caprariello

Posted: Feb 11, 2021 / 09:34 PM CST Updated: Feb 11, 2021 / 10:58 PM CST

AUSTIN (KXAN) — All fulltime and part-time Austin Independent School District employees will receive a one-time payment of $1,000 in March.

The Board of Trustees approved the more than $12 million lump payment on Thursday night, which the district calls a “Retention Incentive Payment,” intended to encourage employees to stay around for the 2021-22 school year.

BREAKING: By unanimous decision, ALL 11,205 @AustinISD employees will receive a one-time retention incentive payment of $1,000 in March, whether you are part-time or full-time.

IMPORTANT: If you’re currently on FMLA, you won’t receive your benefit until you return from leave.

— Alex Caprariello (@alcaprari23) February 12, 2021

Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said that does not require them to work for AISD next year in order to receive the bonus.

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis called it a major win.

“We are really excited about this,” Zarifis said. “It shouldn’t take so much to respect all employees who work hard for the district, but we are glad AISD finally listened and did the right thing.”

The previous language of the voting item provided $1,000 to only fulltime employees. Part-time employees were originally intended to receive $500. However, after board discussion, the decision was made to award all employees the same amount.

Employees should expect the payment on Friday, March 12. It will be separate from their regularly-taxed paycheck. Employees who are currently on FMLA will not receive their payment until their leave is over.

Employee Turnover Data

The district is not legally allowed to call this a bonus. It is instead referred to as a “retention incentive benefit,” intended to incentivize employees to stay on with the district into the coming 2021-22 school year.

“We know employees have options and choices. So this is the time of year where we ask, ‘what is your intent for the following school year? Are you intending on remaining in Austin ISD?’” said Leslie Stephens, AISD’s Human Capital Department Chief. “We really want our employees to know that we appreciate all the effort that has gone into this past school year and we hope that it incentivizes them to remain with us for the 2021/2022 school year.”

While the financial compensation is certainly a welcomed gift for many, there is still much dissatisfaction within the education community in the way the district has handled it’s employees’ needs during the pandemic.

Many teachers and staff have retired early or resigned, citing inflexible staffing choices and strict accommodation denials for the spring semester. However, the data doesn’t necessarily reflect unprecedented turnover in this most recent year.

Based on data compiled from April 2019 to present, 78 more teachers left in 2020-21 than in 2019-20. But fewer non-teaching staff have. And the total separations (retirements and resignations) are down by about 50 in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20.

A quick glance comparing @AustinISD resignations and retirements between March 2019/20 – present.

▪️ 78 MORE teachers left AISD during 2020 compared to 2019
▪️ 125 LESS non-teachers left AISD during 2020 compared to 2019
▪️ There were 47 LESS separations in 2020 compared to 2019

— Alex Caprariello (@alcaprari23) February 3, 2021