Moving In

First grade teacher Jill Horak, one of several new teachers starting at Hutchins Elementary this year, prepares her classroom for the first day of school on Aug. 19. 

Students will be welcomed back to school this year by some familiar faces and some new, all donning masks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

ECISD will be starting the year with 30 new teachers and nine new administrators or other faculty, including the district’s new superintendent Bob Callaghan who was officially hired in July.

The new hires include three El Campo High School coaches, 11 El Campo Middle School teachers, 14 elementary teachers and five special education employees. Others include ECMS Assistant Principal Samantha Wortham, ECHS counselor Shongh Smith, ECHS band director Rolando Cantu and ECHS Assistant Athletic Trainer Mallory Weaver.

“I met the new teachers, and they are an exciting and enthusiastic group,” Callaghan said.

Former ECMS Principal Gary Figirova, who resigned from his role at the end of July, was hired on as a JV football coach and special education behavior teacher at ECHS. Figirova did not respond to the Leader-News’ request for comment as of press time.

Before the start of the upcoming school year, 17 teachers retired from ECISD. Others resigned due to family reasons, marriage, job opportunities and wanting to work closer to home, Human Resources Coordinator Terese Faas said.

The district’s compensation plan for this year is to give teachers a 2.5 percent raise. Teacher pay increases between two and three percent are typical for ECISD within the last couple of years.

Louise ISD will be welcoming four new teachers this year and one new bus mechanic, Hermann Aguilar. Former LISD student and school board president David Menefee will be teaching high school math, while Julie Cox was hired to teach Kindergarten, Taylor Gray to teach Louise High School social studies and coach and Trent Woods will teach social studies and technology and coach at Louise Junior High.

The individuals formerly in those positions left for a variety of reasons, Louise Superintendent Garth Oliver said.

LISD will not be offering teacher raises this year, but trustees discussed giving retention incentives. The total cost for all district employees is about $4.4 million for the district, which takes up about 75 percent of the district’s M&O revenue.

St. Philip Catholic School hired first grade teacher Jessica Drapela and first grade and sixth grade language arts teacher Ashley Fyke. Debbie Michaelson rejoined the school as a third grade teacher after a one year hiatus.

The school began the 2020-2021 semester about one week ahead of ECISD and LISD, on Aug. 11. Something new for teachers on campus this year is the added integration of Google platforms in the classroom. Teachers have spent hours preparing to use this technology during the school year, St. Philip Principal Gwen Edwards said.

“I appreciate all their efforts, because they have really embraced the new platform and all the learning that is required to successfully start the year,” Edwards said.

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