Some HISD employees receive bonuses

January 28, 2009 10:21:00 AM PST
More than 15,000 HISD employees are being rewarded for their commitment to education.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The district is paying out $31.4 million in bonuses because it's seen tremendous academic growth in the 2007-2008 school year. That sets a new record.

Year to year, the amount of bonus money going out is up from $24 million last year to more than $31 million this past year. HISD says it's primarily because students are making greater strides than the district predicted.

Eyewitness News spoke to bilingual education teacher Blanca Cuellar at Southmayd Elementary. She didn't receive a bonus at all last year, but received the full amount available to her this year, which is about $6,000. She's excited about the reward she's receiving for her work, but ambivalent about the program in general. She believes a lot of teachers are working hard, but if their students are already doing well, they may not see the kind of improvement that would warrant a bonus.

Overall, she says the bonus program did force her to reflect on her work.

"It was good for me because then I had to think back, 'Well, why did I get into education? What was it that attracted me to education?' Somehow I thought I was doing my best, but reflecting on it, I needed to start learning new ideas," said Cuellar.

There are schools and teachers that saw improvement, but didn't get bonuses. That's because only those in the top half with respect to growth received bonuses.

As for Cuellar, she says she's taking her daughter on a trip with the money.

To learn more about the record breaking HISD bonus program, log onto HISD's website.

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