Ship part

“We are on a sunken ship,” BISD teachers say retention allowance does not compare to workload

BROWNSVILLE, TX (ValleyCentral) – Educators in the Brownsville Independent School District have told their stories after a year of teaching like they have never seen before.

“We’re on a sunken ship and we hold onto each other,” said Martin Leal, professor of Texas history at Brownsville ISD.

Leal, like other educators, faces a new workload expected of them to bring all students up to speed after almost 18 months of being out of the classroom due to COVID-19.

“Students are being tested on things they haven’t been exposed to yet, things we had to relearn because they completely missed it during the pandemic,” said Laura Carmona, English reading teacher at BISD.

Credit: KVEO Iris Karami; Pictured: Laura Carmona

Leal said he had never had high blood pressure in his three decades of teaching until this year, and said other colleagues have died while working.

“We had two of our peers, one had a heart attack in class and died, then we had another teacher who recently had a stroke, I believe it was a stroke, on campus and deceased, ”Leal said.

Now educators are considering leaving the professor earlier than expected, according to Leal.

Credit: KVEO Iris Karami: pictured Martin Leal

“One of the things is that I’ve been joking for five years that I’m going to retire, but this year it’s become a reality,” Leal said. “Right now there are about 10 to 14 teachers talking about retirement. “

Ida Abeldaño, organizer of the Association of Brownsville Educators, told a recent school board meeting that it was decided that an advance of $ 500 would be given to educators on December 17.

“This $ 500 that is going to be paid in December is something that was not scheduled to be paid in December, but what they are doing is just advancing it over what was going to be paid. ‘next year,’ said Abeldaño.

According to BISD spokesperson Jason Moody, the $ 500 comes from a retention allowance allocated to BISD staff. The retention allowance came from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Grant (ESSER) which was given to schools across the country to deal with the impacts of the pandemic.

Brownsville received $ 185 million, according to Abeldaño, and of that money, $ 3,200 will be distributed over a three-year period.

Moody said there was $ 1,500 left for the next two years.

“Very disheartening $ 500 compared to other districts receiving triple that amount,” Carmona said.

At Donna ISD, school board member Maricela Valdez said the school pays $ 9,000 in maintenance allowance to all educators over a three-year period. In total, Donna ISD received $ 75.6 million according to their website.

When ValleyCentral asked Moody if the district was considering adjusting the amount of the allowance, the question was not answered.

BISD Superintendent René Gutierrez said in a press release on Nov. 18: “This allowance is paid for the public educational purposes of working during very difficult and trying times of a national pandemic and to further incentivize and retain district employees “.