Lockhart ISD is helping employees pay for gas
Central Texas school districts have been looking for ways to attract and retain staff in a tight job market. One step the Lockhart Independent School District board of trustees took this year was approving what the district describes as a “historic” compensation plan.
Teachers got up to an 8% raise, while clerical paraprofessional staff received a 37% increase in pay and auxiliary staff got a 28% increase.
Lockhart ISD launched another initiative to ease financial pressures employees are facing. It’s called Drive.Pair.Share, and the goal is to help staff cover the cost of gas. Here’s how the program works: If an employee lives 10 miles or farther from Lockhart and carpools with another employee who lives that far away, the driver of the vehicle will get $10 a day from the district.
When the reimbursement program was announced in June, gas prices in Texas had hit an all-time high with the statewide average at $4.69 per gallon, according to AAA Texas. At that time, Lockhart ISD Superintendent Mark Estrada told KUT about 70% of the district’s staff live in surrounding areas and commute to work.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to help retain and recruit high quality teachers, and this is one initiative that we think will help that,” he said.
The program launched in August. So far, 10 employees have submitted claims for reimbursement totaling $640. One of those employees is fourth-grade teacher Lily Moldenhauer who lives in South Austin.
“I’m very blessed to work for a district that is so willing to help us,” Moldenhauer said.
Her commute to Lockhart can take up to an hour, and filling up her tank normally costs $40 to $50. She said by carpooling with another teacher every day, she qualifies for a $50 reimbursement each week.
“It could almost help pay for almost all or at least half of my gas for the month,” she said.
The help with gas is freeing Moldenhauer up to cover other expenses such as groceries and classroom supplies. She also recently got married and hopes the extra savings can go toward eventually buying a house. She said while $50 a week might not seem like a lot, it adds up.
“And by the end of the month you have saved a lot of money that you could have been spending on gas,” she said.
Lockhart ISD officials expect more employees to submit claims to the Drive.Pair.Share program this month.