In a move that was met by cheers of approval by employees standing in the Administration Building of the Robstown Independent School District Tuesday, the Board of Trustees voted to approve a pay incentive funded by the recent Tax Ratification Election.

The board considered two options for payment last Tuesday. The first option totaled $1.86 million, and included payments of $4,000 to administrators, $3,500 to campus professional staff, $2,500 to non-certified personnel and $1,000 to part-time personnel. The second option totaled $1.56 million, and included payments of $3,500 to administrators, $3,000 to campus professional staff, $2,000 to non-certified personnel and $1,000 to part-time personnel.

Superintendent Alfonso Obregon made a recommendation to the board that the second, smaller option be adopted to allow the district to make up for a $500,000 shortfall in the current budget. Representatives for the district's employees countered that recommendation, however, stating the purpose of the Tax Ratification Election was to provide pay incentives to district personnel, not to cover other areas of the budget.

Another issue facing the district was the timing of the payment. Representatives speaking on behalf of district employees made clear Tuesday their wish that the money be distributed as soon as possible. Board member Roberto Tapia, however, recommended the district wait until the money is received from the state, which at the soonest would be in January 2011.

Ultimately, the board voted 5-0 to approve the first option, totaling $1.86 million, and to authorize Obregon to issue the one-time payment as soon as possible. Officials indicated that payment could come sometime before Thanksgiving.

In other business last week:

The board reviewed a presentation on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas rating for the school district. The district received an "Above Standard Achievement" rating from the state. The rating is the second highest given, and the highest the district was able to receive because it received an Academically Unacceptable rating the previous year. The district also lost points in the rating because its debt expenditures were too high. The state standard for such expenditures is $350 per student, while Robstown ISD's expenditures were at $441.55 per student.

The district also lost points in the rating for having too many full-time employees. The state recommends a district have no more than 6.3 full-time employees per student, while Robstown ISD's ratio came in at 6.09 employees per student. The district currently has 599 full time employees, and administration officials estimated the state recommendation would be 525 employees for the number of students in the district.

The board rescinded a policy that had been adopted in 2007 that restricted the superintendent's ability to assign and reassign administrative personnel.