TEXARKANA, Texas -- Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the use of $600,000 in federal stimulus funding to provide teacher retention bonuses during a regular meeting Wednesday. The goal is to provide $1,000 retention bonuses for teachers and $600 for all other staff. The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund can be used to aid schools in supporting teacher retention.
The 2022-23 TISD Compensation Plan included a $1,000 ESSER Teacher Retention bonus for the school year. "We are so pleased that these available funds allow us to recognize our outstanding teachers who are making a difference in the lives of our students every day," Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker said.
"We also recognize that these are COVID relief funds, and we recognize the hardship that so many of our staff members underwent dealing with the pandemic. "We're just so proud of the work that they've done, and we're delighted to be able to honor them in this way." The approval comes as many school districts in the South are struggling with teacher shortages. TISD recently confirmed that around 7% of its new teacher hires this year were hired with emergency certifications to meet the district's teaching needs. The district also is working on implementing long-term measures to recruit more teachers through pipelines in the future. Brubaker announced last month the district's plans to launch a new P-Tech program through a partnership with TC and local industry partners.
P-Tech, or Pathways in Technology, offers individual pathways for students to simultaneously obtain their high school diploma and an associate's degree while also gaining work experience. The district's initial focus with the program is to grow teachers from within. "One of the most valuable resources that we have is the time that our students spend with our highly qualified staff, so we want to make sure that we keep our staff here," Brubaker said. In other news from the meeting, the trustees approved an agreement with TCI Texarkana Inc.
for an appraised value limitation on qualified property, pursuant to Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code. In November 2021, the trustees approved a resolution designating the TCI Texarkana Reinvestment Zone, which is a necessary step to be eligible for a limitation agreement. Texas Tax Code Chapter 313 creates a state tax incentive program for certain large businesses to limit the appraised value on their property for the purposes of local Texas public school district property taxes.
Creating a reinvestment zone is a necessary step to be eligible for a limitation agreement. An appraised value limitation is an agreement between a taxpayer and a Texas school district in which the taxpayer proposes to build or install property -- and create jobs meeting certain job and wage requirements -- in exchange for a 10-year limitation on the taxpayer's property value for school district maintenance and operations tax purposes. According to buzzfile.com, TCI Texarkana, which also operates under the name Texarkana Aluminum, is in Nash, Texas and primarily operates in the coils/sheet aluminum business. In October 2021, Bowie County Commissioners Court announced it was considering granting Texarkana Aluminum's parent company a 50% abatement on the company's annual property taxes.
The tax cut would last five years. The abatement is a financial incentive for the company to expand operations on 119 acres of property in the 300 block of Alumax Drive, in Nash. TISD also approved its audit report for fiscal year 2021-22. Auditors from the firm of Thomas & Thomas issued an unmodified opinion on TISD's accounting procedures and determined that the district continues to maintain sound financial practices. TISD ended fiscal year 2021-22 with a fund balance of $16.9 million, a decrease of $392,921 from the previous year. The next meeting for the TISD Board of Trustees will be Dec.