Distinguished teachers, starting teacher salaries, recent leadership changes and more


“Notes from the Superintendent” is a document intended to provide answers to the most frequently asked or most topical questions that I hear from our dedicated teachers and staff members at the campus level. These notes are kept on the HUB, the district’s online newsroom, and will provide brief answers to different questions every two weeks.

If you have a question related to something that affects a number of employees, you may submit that question here. I hope this additional form of communication will help all of us stay on the same page and enhance our ability to serve our students.


Question: Will distinguished teachers be forced to teach in struggling schools?

Answer: No. The district will, however, provide an incentive for distinguished teachers who choose to move to our campuses that did not meet state accountability (Improvement Required Schools).

Question: What will be the starting salary for teachers who join the district for the first time?

Answer: Novice teachers (those who are teaching for the first year ever) will be paid $50,000 (pending Board approval of the budget). All other teachers new to the district will receive a salary between $51,000 and $58,000. These teachers will not have an evaluation rating or effectiveness level until they reach the end of their first year with the district. A new teacher with at least two years under his belt will be eligible for a distinguished review if his principal assesses his performance at the end of the first semester and he receives the requisite number of points (this year it was 65 points).

Question: How will the recent change in leadership in the Human Capital Management Department affect the work of the district?

Answer: The loss of two senior administrators in HCM is certainly a blow to the District and affects the morale of the staff members and the climate of the department. Still, other leaders are stepping up to ensure schools have timely and effective support. The staff members are moving forward as the goals and targets for HCM have not changed, and the expectations for progress and mission accomplishment have not been lowered. As a district, we will take this opportunity to reflect upon and take steps to support and foster a more professional culture.


  • Over 1,390 teachers, more than 94 percent of those eligible, submitted applications for the Distinguished Teacher Review process. DTR observations and application reviews will take place from February through May.
  • Pending Board approval, assistant principals and counselors will be evaluated under a new pay-for-performance system beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Our 11th and 12th grade African American and Hispanic students did well on the AP exams last year. A total of 1,517 students passed either the math, science, or English AP exams with a qualifying score of three, four, or five. Twice as many minority students passed the exams in Dallas as compared to Houston and other large urban cities.


From “Better Teaching More Useful Than More Learning Time,” Education News, 15 Jan 2015.

Years after the Obama administration began offering low-performing schools federal money if they agreed to add additional time to their school day or year in an effort to increase their performance rates, those schools who took the deal are saying the added time has only been slightly helpful. School leaders report that better teaching, often a result of teachers being given more collaboration time, has resulted in a much bigger payoff.

The reports come as findings in a new study of 17 schools in four states released by the Center on Education Policy, “Expanded Learning Time: A Summary of Findings from Case Studies in Four States.” In order to comply with the regulations in place from the federal School Improvement Grant, 30 minutes were added to every day at one school. Teachers in that school received additional pay for the extra hours.  In addition, three weeks of summer school were offered for those students who needed it.

A second school decided to offer after-school academics and enrichment programs, a cheaper option than paying certified teachers for additional hours. In addition, school was held for eight Saturdays each year. Attendance on those days was mandatory for students who needed higher grades or who were required to show a mastery of reading, writing or math to receive a diploma. However, principals at both of these schools say they do not think the additional school time will be feasible once the federal grants run out.  In addition, they both agree that teacher training, collaboration and improved techniques have led to a greater increase in student achievement than has extra classroom time, reports Betsy Hammond for The Oregonian.

“Any effort to expand learning time should go hand in hand with a plan for improving the quality of instruction,” said Maria Ferguson, executive director of the center that conducted the study. . . .

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