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This chapter reviews EPISD's management of district personnel in six sections:

A. Organization and Management
B. Personnel Policies and Procedures
C. Job Descriptions
D. Employment of Personnel
E. Recruitment of Teachers
F. Records Management

CURRENT SITUATION

In September 1998, EPISD employed 8,485 FTEs. Of this number, nearly 61 percent were instructional personnel (classroom teachers, teaching aides, librarians, and counselors). Teachers alone comprised 51 percent (4,332) of the total.

Exhibit 4-4 shows the number of employees in the district for school years 1993-94 through 1997-98 by category-professional staff (teachers, professional support staff, campus administrators, and central administrators), educational aides, and auxiliary staff (food service, transportation, custodial, and maintenance workers, and clerical staff).

Exhibit 4-4
EPISD
Number of Employees
1993-94 through 1997-98
  1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98


Classification of Staff
# of Staff % of Total Staff # of Staff % of Total Staff # of Staff % of Total Staff # of Staff % of Total Staff # of Staff % of Total Staff
Professional Staff:  
Teachers 3,920.5 52.0 3,989.8 52.1 4,067.6 52.7 4,044.3 51.6 4,062.3 51.8
Professional Support 586.3 7.8 623.9 8.2 667.6 8.6 676.2 8.6 645.1 8.2
Campus Administrators 174.0 2.3 172.0 2.2 185.0 2.4 199.9 2.5 199.4 2.5
Central Administrators 29.0 0.4 29.0 0.4 29.0 0.4 29.0 0.4 34.5 0.4
Educational Aides: 476.1 6.3 527.6 6.9 512.9 6.6 426.5 5.4 391.2 5.0
Auxiliary Staff: 2,359.3 31.3 2,309.8 30.2 2,258.6 29.3 2,469.3 31.5 2,508.8 32.0
Total Staff 7,545.1 100 7,652.0 100 7,720.7 100 7,845.2 100 8,002.4 100
Source: Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) for 1993-94 through 1997-98.

Exhibit 4-5 compares the number of administrative/professional personnel for EPISD with its peer districts and Region 19.

Exhibit 4-5
Administrative/Professional Personnel
EPISD, Peer Districts, and Region 19
1997-98
District Student Enrollment Professional Staff Central Admin. CampusAdmin. Professional Support Teachers
Fort Worth 76,901 5,366 48 276 729 4,313
Dallas 157,622 11,612 19 477 1,639 9,477
Houston 210,988 14,133 118 561 1,848 11,606
San Antonio 61,112 4,693 58 160 678 3,797
Corpus Christi 40,975 3,088 20 143 440 2,485
Ysleta 47,616 3,593 42 126 454 2,971
Socorro 22,051 1,731 22 58 196 1,455
El Paso 63,909 4,941 35 199 645 4,062
Region 19 153,710 11,877 136 453 1,452 9,838
Source: AEIS

The number of teachers increased by about 4 percent from 1993-94 to 1997-98. In 1996-97, the number of teachers teaching in the district dropped by 23 but most of this trend had reversed by 1997-98 (4,062).

Exhibit 4-6 compares the student-to-staff ratios for EPISD with its peer districts, Region 19, and the state. The district is slightly above the state average of 15:1 for its teacher-to-student ratio.

Exhibit 4-6
Comparison of Average Student-to-Staff Ratios
EPISD, Peer Districts, and the State
1997-98
District Student
Enrollment
Professional
Staff
Central
Admin.
Campus
Admin.
Professional
Support
Teachers
Fort Worth 76,901 14:1 1,602:1 279:1 105:1 18:1
Dallas 157,622 14:1 8,296:1 330:1 96:1 17:1
Houston 210,988 15:1 1,788:1 376:1 114:1 18:1
San Antonio 61,112 13:1 1,053:1 382:1 90:1 16:1
Corpus Christi 40,975 13:1 2,049:1 287:1 93:1 17:1
Ysleta 47,616 13:1 1,134:1 378:1 105:1 16:1
Socorro 22,051 13:1 1,002:1 380:1 113:1 15:1
El Paso 63,909 13:1 1,826:1 321:1 99:1 16:1
State Average 3,891,877 13:1 940:1 317:1 116:1 15:1
Source: AEIS

The number of total employees has increased steadily over the five years, with the largest increase coming in 1997-98, when there were 157 more employees than in 1996-97. The number of employees has increased at an average of about 1.5 percent each year for five years.

Exhibit 4-7 shows EPISD's student enrollment-to-staff ratios for the last five school years. While the decline is slight, EPISD's staff has continuously served fewer students over the past five years.

Exhibit 4-7
EPISD Total Student Enrollment to Total Ratios
1993-94 through 1997-98
Fiscal Year Total Enrollment Total Staff Ratio of Total Staff
to Enrollment
1993-94 64,141 7,545 1:8.50
1994-95 64,880 7,653 1:8.48
1995-96 64,260 7,721 1:8.32
1996-97 64,444 7,845 1:8.21
1997-98 63,909 8,002 1:7.99
Source: AEIS.

The number of auxiliary staff in the district fell from 1993-94 through 1995-96, but increased in 1996-97 through 1997-98. Central administrators remained steady at 29 up until 1997-98, when the total central administrators stood at 34.5.

Exhibit 4-8 compares the average salaries of EPISD's teachers, professional staff, campus administrators, and central administrators with those of seven school districts, Region 19, and the state. EPISD's average teacher salary is higher than Ysleta, Socorro, and Region 19. Five peer districts have professional support salaries higher than EPISD's-Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Socorro. EPISD campus administrators rank the lowest in average salaries, while central administrators rank near the highest, with an average salary of $71,139.

Exhibit 4-8
Average Salaries for Professional Staff
EPISD State Region 19, and Peer Districts
1997-98
  Teachers Professional Support Campus Administration Central Administration
Socorro $32,315 $44,494 $58,591 $67,836
Ysleta $32,630 $40,499 $56,526 $58,073
Region 19 $32,747 $41,385 $53,498 $63,868
El Paso $33,246 $41,724 $50,303 $71,139
Houston $35,920 $43,725 $57,205 $67,512
State $33,537 $40,713 $52,030 $62,946
Dallas $34,309 $44,589 $55,356 $84,536
Corpus Christi $35,124 $43,031 $51,134 $75,272
Fort Worth $35,468 $42,400 $54,622 $73,392
San Antonio $38,034 $44,269 $58,099 $66,915
Source: AEIS.

During its review, TSPR held a public forum and surveyed administrators, principals, and teachers to determine major issues facing EPISD. Many expressed significant concern over the number of administrative positions in the Human Resources Unit, the promotion of school staff to central office positions, hiring practices, and teacher salaries. At community meetings held during the review, many attendees remarked that teacher salaries are too low and that teachers deserve better pay and benefits. About 72 percent of the administrators, 77 percent of the principals, and 68 percent of the teachers stated that EPISD's salary levels are not competitive with other districts.

EPISD participates in several salary surveys: the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the American Association of School Administrators, Educational Research Services Arlington, Virginia. A review of salaries is conducted each year and the district has had salary studies conducted by outside firms. However, for the past two years they have been working with TASB to review salaries. The district has attempted to stay competitive with local school districts.

FINDING

About 2,500 persons are registered with EPISD as substitute teachers, teacher aides, nurses, librarians, bus drivers, clerks, campus patrol, or food service, custodial and maintenance workers. To become registered as a substitute, a person must complete a data card, information sheet, and provide documentation such as a photograph, an official transcript or high school diploma, tuberculosis test results, an I-9 form, a W-4 form, and a criminal record clearance. The director of Support Personnel interviews each applicant.

Teacher substitutes are paid $54 a day if non-degreed and $60.50 if degreed. If a substitute is asked to accept a long-term teaching assignment (10 days or more), he or she receives $62.50 if non-degreed and $68.50 if degreed. Substitute nurses are paid $125 a day; librarians, $60.50; and clerks, teaching aides, custodians, and food service and maintenance workers, $5.50 per hour. On average, between 450 and 650 substitutes are required weekly.

As of October 7, 1998, the district had 17 long-term substitutes (a substitute who works 10 or more consecutive days) in full-time vacant positions and seven in half-day vacant positions. The district is expected to fill these vacancies by January 1999 upon recruitment efforts at the University of Texas - El Paso (UTEP).

COMMENDATION

EPISD maintains a pool of substitute teachers, teacher aides, clerical personnel, paraprofessionals, and maintenance workers.

FINDING

All substitute teachers, whether long- or short-term, are required to attend an orientation session if they have not attended one previously or if they have not worked in the district for three or more years. One component of the training session, Modeling and Observing for Substitute Teaching (MOST), is the review of the MOST Substitute Teacher Handbook which presents ideas for planning and presenting a lesson, discipline management, and remaining on task during class time. Another component of the training session allows the substitute teacher to spend time observing and interacting with a master teacher in an actual classroom.

Principals are given the opportunity to evaluate a substitute teacher serving in their school. While this is not required of the principal, it helps to identify unsatisfactory substitute teachers.

COMMENDATION

The support and training provided to substitute teachers is well planned and the training materials are comprehensive and thorough.

FINDING

Four years ago, EPISD purchased an automated substitute calling system called TEAMS (The Employee Assignment Management System) for $103,000 from a firm (TSSI) in Dallas, Texas. The system is supported by Support Personnel with a clerical assistant overseeing and operating the system. Employees are entered into the system and given a personal identification number (PIN) to use when they dial in to report their absence or change information on their data package. As substitutes register, they too are entered into the system using a PIN. The system is completely automated with ten incoming and ten outgoing lines.

When employees are absent from duty, they call in to TEAMS, which automatically locates a substitute for them. Instructions for using the system are clearly detailed in brochures. Training on the system is provided throughout the year.

Custodial and food service workers do not use TEAMS, but instead call into an answering system that was used before TEAMS was implemented. A clerical assistant then calls substitutes for the absent employee. The department hopes to bring these employees and substitutes on-line with TEAMS during the current school year.

TEAMS can fill between 450 and 650 vacancies a week. Daily, weekly, and monthly reports are generated to track the number of absent employees and number of substitutes used.

COMMENDATION

The TEAMS system allows EPISD to find substitutes for absent employees efficiently, reducing costs and saving time.

FINDING

Persons seeking employment with EPISD must complete an application and return it to Human Resources. The application and related documents (references, transcripts, licensing) are placed in a folder, a criminal check is initiated, and the application is entered into the electronic human resources management system. Human Resources directors interview each applicant so that a pool of applicants is created for filling vacancies or new positions.

Vacancies at pay level 2 and above are advertised within the district and usually are filled by EPISD employees; these positions generally are considered promotions or at least lateral moves for the employee. Vacancies are posted in the district's weekly publication ADCOM.

If there is no available pool within the district, Human Resources advertises the position outside the district. Such positions as programmers, analysts, and police officers often are advertised in this manner. Support personnel often are hired as substitutes and later hired as permanent employees.

Job vacancies also are advertised every Friday afternoon on the district's 24-hour telephone hotline, Direct Line. More than 3,000 calls are received on Direct Line each month.

During the public forums held by the review team, attendees noted:

  • "...Hiring practices in place now have allowed nepotism and certain groups for promotion based on politics and not on educational background."
  • "...Keep educated personnel in the classroom or school where they are making a difference rather than transferring them to administration."
  • "District promotes teachers into administrative positions; these people are qualified to be teachers not administrators..."

While the district intends to provide opportunities for employee advancement, its strategy may be detrimental to keeping good personnel in the positions in which they are most effective. For instance, does a school suffer when a good teacher or principal moves into an administrative position at the central office? Does the teacher or principal, in turn, have the credentials or expertise to effectively administer a department or unit? On the other hand, the opportunity for a teacher to earn more as an administrator is inviting, as the top pay for a teacher with experience often is lower than that of an administrator.

Recommendation 48:

Establish policies and procedures that will lead to the hiring of the most qualified applicants.

EPISD should review its practices and procedures for promoting personnel and seek to hire the most qualified people for vacant positions throughout the district.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The executive director for Human Resources and executive staff meet to examine their promotion and hiring practices. May 1999
2. The executive director for Human Resources consults with the associate superintendent for Support Services and other associate superintendents and executive directors for input and suggestions. June 1999
3. The executive director of Human Resources prepares a report to gather ideas and suggestions of the above staff and provides a report to the superintendent. July 1999
4. The report on the district's proposed hiring practices is presented to the superintendent and board. September 1999
5. The district's new hiring policy is implemented. September 1999

FISCAL IMPACT

This recommendation can be accomplished with existing resources.