Recess, Campus Based Staff Meetings, Test Preparation & More



Question: How many minutes of recess are elementary students required to have?

Answer:  There is no established amount of recess time required by the District. The amount of recess elementary students receive is a building-level decision. School Leadership recommends an average of 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Also, the State requires at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise every day.

Question: How many staff meetings may a principal conduct in a week?

Answer: Every school is different, and principals have a certain amount of autonomy to conduct staff meetings when they deem necessary. Still, district regulations limit principals to 90 minutes of after-school or before-school time for staff meetings (except in urgent or exceptional situations). This 90-minute period may be split into two meetings on two separate days.

Question: Why is there so much test preparation? Do students really need to be pulled out of class for additional instruction that others in the same class are not getting? Shouldn’t all students get the same instruction?

Answer: The use of practice tests is a decision made at the campus level. The district does not require any practice tests to be given. Excellent instruction is the most important way that teachers help students grow academically, and every student should receive high-quality instruction every day. Excellent instruction is always more effective than test preparation, particularly test preparation that occurs at the expense of other classes. We recognize that students learn the same concept in different ways and at different paces. Some students may require additional instruction in order to master the concepts being taught. However, time spent on test preparation should be very minimal.


  • In the most recent climate survey, 70.5 percent of teachers believe they have the support they need from campus leadership to do their job well. Another 13.8 percent were neutral and 15.7 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.
  • Students may read a book or put together a puzzle when they are done with either an ACP or STAAR exam.
  • Beginning this week, staff will receive five local leave days annually in addition to the five state days. This is up from three last year. See policy DEC (Local).


TEI will fundamentally change the way teachers are compensated in the District. While starting and ending salaries are higher, teachers are able to also receive much higher salaries earlier in their careers. Under the current “step and lane” system, it takes a teacher 10 years to start earning $51,000. Under TEI, an effective teacher will make that much in three years.

Many people across the country are thinking about how to make teacher salaries more competitive and how to provide higher salaries earlier in a teacher’s career. A recent report speaks to some of the examples. See the excerpts below.

From SMART MONEY: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them, The National Council on Teacher Quality, December 2014.

Teacher pay is a popular topic of discussion in the press, with politicians at the bargaining table. The focus, however, is usually only on the relative competitiveness of a district’s starting and ending salaries. The number of years it takes to go from the bottom to the top rungs of the salary ladder gets far less attention, in spite of the impact that an earning trajectory has on overall earnings.

Generally speaking, the salary trajectory for teaching is characterized by relatively small, incremental raises doled out each year, serving in stark contrast to many jobs in the private sector, with its system of promotions, bonuses and relatively rapid raises.

However, that trajectory is a lot more gradual in some school districts than others. A generous starting or ending salary does not necessarily signal that a district offers the best financial package by any means. The speed of salary growth in the interim years, when a teacher is establishing her career and often a household, can substantially alter her ultimate earnings.

. . .  

It is time for school districts to rethink compensation systems. Attention to starting and ending salaries is not enough; the path teachers must take to receive higher salaries matters as well.

As more districts move away from salary schedules based primarily on experience and advanced degrees, districts offering traditional salary schedules with no way to accelerate earnings may be losing a competitive edge. Built-in step increases may feel like a plus, but schedules that reach peak salaries earlier allow teachers to earn a professional salary early in their career and consequently more compensation overall.

As important, districts that have made the choice to recognize performance should look critically at how well their teachers are being compensated at varying levels of success. Are the highest performers truly separated from those who are not as successful? Exemplary teachers have set themselves apart from their peers; can the same be said of their pay?

Most lock-step salary schedules that are entirely dependent on experience and educational credits do not allow districts to create a competitive edge or reward teachers for their accomplishments. School district leaders, teachers and policy makers must invest in redesigning salary structures if they want to shape teaching into the sustainable career it deserves to be.




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