in Houston, Texas
Houston ISD pays teachers $3.7 million not to teach
Friday, Feb 04, 2011, 02:07PM CST
By Lynn Walsh

Ending contracts with “low-performing” teachers in Houston schools has cost taxpayers $3.7 million, according to a recent investigation from Fox 26 News.

The Houston Independent School District ended its year-long contracts of 47 teachers last summer, leading to cash payouts for the former employees ranging from $45,000 to $73,000, according to the story.
HISD’s chief human resource officer, Ann Best, told Fox 26 the teachers were let go because they were not high-performing:
“‘We looked at past track records of success so I can assure that these were teachers that were low-performing,’ Best reasoned.”
Best also told Fox 26 that the teachers were let go to help implement the district’s Apollo 20 turnaround program for low-performing schools in the district.

Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, told Fox 26 she doesn’t believe that:
"’Ann Best is lying on that!’ Fallon countered. ‘Quite simply these folks did not have bad evaluations; these folks were in schools that weren't functioning well.’"
At an HISD trustee meeting Thursday, the district announced there were 89 displaced teachers with continuing contracts next year, and the cost to keep the teachers on the payroll next year is $5.7 million.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said the district can’t afford to spend $5.7 million on non-budgeted teaching positions next year.

HISD trustee Harvin Moore described the situation as “a potential rubber room in Houston,” referring to suspended teachers in New York City who continued to be paid despite not having teaching assignments and spending months doing nothing.

The district is just beginning the conversation of what to do with the 89 teachers next year. In a presentation, HISD said, “we want to mitigate the district’s financial obligation while recognizing the staffing flexibilities of individual schools and the disruption that widespread ‘bumping’ could cause.”

Contact Lynn Walsh at 713-228-2850 or or on Twitter at @LWalsh.

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Photo of empty classroom chairs by flickr user csessums, used under a Creative Commons license.

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