Henderson will provide a stipend to teachers to help offset the costs of internet services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The stipend was approved unanimously during a brief, emergency school board meeting held Monday afternoon.
“I was contacted by Mr. Butler (Chairman of the HISD School Board) about looking at an additional stipend,” said Superintendent Dr. Thurston Lamb. “I thought that was a great idea because we are requiring teachers to spend an increased amount of time on the internet and they often use their personal cell phones.”
Lamb said teachers are using additional data as they prepare and distribute lessons, meet with school administrators and lead teachers as well as hold online classes and communicate with parents and students.
“This has been a very trying time for lots of people, especially teachers,” Butler told the board.
“And if there is any support we as a board can give teachers right now, we need to do it.”
The board approved the stipend for teachers and long-term substitutes filling vacant positions at $100 per month for the three months, covering March, April and May. Lamb said the total cost is expected to be around $76,000 and will be paid for with funds left over in the transportation budget that will not be used due to state-wide cancelations of events. Butler noted that the stipend is only a temporary measure, although the board may consider extending it during a future meeting.
After a question from the board concerning internet availability in the district, Lamb said the school is working on creating numerous public “hotspots” around the district where both students and teachers can park and use the internet for distance learning.