Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 8, 2013

AISD paying for quality

District to give $5K stipends for critical subjects

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

ATHENS — To attract and keep quality teachers in hard-to-fill subjects, Athens Independent School District Superintendent Blake Stiles knows you have to offer competitive pay.

That’s exactly what AISD intends to do after voting unanimously on June 20 to approve Stiles’ proposal to offer a $5,000 stipend to math, science and foreign-language teachers.

The stipends are not only for new teachers in those subjects, but also to those already teaching them at Athens High School. The money is spread out over the period of a contract year.

Stiles said the stipends for foreign language teachers will be for Spanish and French. He hopes to include sign language teachers in that category in the near future.

“It goes for these teachers because those positions are so hard to fill. It helps us to get quality applicants,” he said. “It’s not a signing bonus. It is paid out for 12 months.”

Stiles said the school board was in favor of the idea from the beginning.

“When we got around to budget time, (the trustees) requested that we follow through with it,” he said. “It gives another avenue for our students to get their foreign language coursework in. Not every student wants to take Spanish. And there’s not enough qualified people out there (to teach) sign language. We had it in my previous district and it was as big a draw as Spanish. It didn’t start out that way in the beginning, but later it caught on in a big way.”

Stiles said math, science and foreign languages are the most difficult positions for which to find applicants who are qualified to teach them.

“We have openings right now,” Stiles said. “From my initial conversations with principals about people that (previously) have not wanted to come in, with this they do. Many school districts out there are doing this and this makes us more competitive.”

Stiles said that at some point, he wants to expand the program to the middle school level, as well.