Hundreds of teachers at 33 Northside schools collected a total of $5 million through the state's District Awards for Teacher Excellence (D.A.T.E.) program.
The D.A.T.E. program funnels grant money to school districts to reward teachers in schools that enroll high numbers of economically disadvantaged students who perform well on standardized tests.
Bonus checks ranged anywhere from $150 to more than $5,000, based on 2010 TAKS scores and depending on the subject and grade level taught by the teacher.
"Thank you for everything you do," Superintendent John Folks told teachers at Hatchett Elementary School just before helping to hand out their checks. "I applaud you for your commitment to work in a school that teaches high numbers of economically disadvantaged students. You are heroes for working with the children who need it the most."
Dr. Folks and the Hatchett teachers were serenaded by Mariachi Nuevo Jalisco as the checks were distributed.
"It's nice to be acknowledged as a teacher that helps to lay the foundation for students," pre-kindergarten teacher Ruby Carillo said, noting that she doesn't teach a TAKS grade or subject. "That really touched my heart."
- Elementary Schools: Adams Hill, Burke, Cable, Cody, Driggers, Esparza, Fisher, Glass, Glenoaks, Mary Hull, Knowlton, Lackland City, Linton, McDermott, Mead, Meadow Village, Michael, Myers, Passmore, Powell, Valley Hi, Villarreal, and Westwood Terrace
- Middle Schools: Jones, Neff, Pease, Rayburn, and Ross
- High Schools: Holmes, Jay, Stevens, and Warren
These campuses also are eligible for $770,000 in professional development funds to help improve instruction and student achievement.
Over the past five years NISD staff members have been awarded more than $11 million through state-funded incentive pay grants including the Governor's Educator Excellence Grant, the Texas Educator Excellence Grant, and the D.A.T.E. program. The application and awards process is facilitated by NISD's Grants & Recognitions Department.
Educators have debated whether it's appropriate to give teachers "incentive" or "bonus" checks for good test scores. However, Dr. Folks said if the state wants to funnel money to Northside ISD teachers, the District should help make it happen.
"As hard as you work, if we can get that money in your hands, then I think that's something the District should do," he said.