The Texas Education Agency has chosen Longview ISD as one of 26 school districts in the state to receive funds to boost teachers’ salaries.

The Texas Incentive Allotment program is a result of House Bill 3, also know as the school finance bill, and has three goals, said TEA Director of Strategic Compensation Grace Wu.

“One, keeping effective teachers in the classroom; two, recruiting great teachers; and three, making sure that our highest-needs students have access to effective teachers,” she said.

The program awards teachers designations of “recognized,” “exemplary” and “master,” Wu said.

Longview ISD had 54 teachers approved and will receive $650,000 to raise salaries.

Superintendent James Wilcox said the program will ultimately benefit students.

“Our hope is that additional funding that goes to teachers’ salaries, that that will enable us to hire quality teachers,” he said. “We will have a number of regular classroom teachers make over $100,000 this year with the TIA money and the Longview Incentive for Pay money that we already have. We just think that’s going to enable us to keep the most highly-qualified, most successful staff here with our children. That’s what we want, we want our kids to have the best education possible.”

TEA chose 26 districts to be part of the first group to receive the funds. Longview ISD is the only area district selected.

Wu said Longview ISD’s LIFT program helped the district get selected. LIFT is a program that rewards teachers with extra pay based on student growth.

“Longview demonstrated that they have a system that is valid and reliable for measuring teacher effectiveness,” she said. The first group of school districts to receive the incentive funding “is based on districts who captured data in 2018-19 and they had a compensation program. Moving forward in other cohorts, those are districts who did not have a strategic compensation plan.”

The district’s approval for Texas Incentive Allotment program funds lasts two years, Wu said. However, the district can get five-year approval if it resubmits for approval with a program that includes incentives for student growth and teacher observations.

John York, Longview ISD director of elementary curriculum and instruction, is part of a state-level committee of teachers involved in the development of the Texas Incentive Allotment program.

York said the teachers selected this year receive a designation on their teacher certifications, and their payout is based on the poverty level of the campus they teach at.

Wu said the designation travels with the teacher, so if they go to work at a different district, the designation stays on their certificate, and they generate funding for that district.

The district will pay teachers 90% of their allotment; the remaining 10% is used to administer the program and on training for the selected teachers, York said.

“The goal of the program is to provide a realistic pathway for teachers to make $100,000 salaries, and the goal is to attract and retain our most talented teaches at our most at-risk campuses,” he said.

The teacher with the highest allotment this year is getting an extra $27,588, York said.

“They’re worth every penny,” he said. “Teachers are on the front line; they have a difficult and challenging job, and they deserve every penny and more.”