Balance, Budget and Everything in Between Are at the Heart of the New School Year

A balanced budget, innovative educational programs and competitive salaries are at the top of the list for the 2023-2024 school year in Alief ISD. Our stakeholders support the district’s initiatives through their tax dollars every year and it is our charge to use those funds wisely; while simultaneously providing our community with students that will be productive citizens and future leaders.

The district hosted several budget workshops, open to the public, ahead of the 2023-2024 school year. The meetings were designed to provide staff and stakeholders with first-hand knowledge of the district’s financial outlook. The impact of declining student enrollment, public education trends, district programs, infrastructure, the ending of ESSER, unfunded mandates from the state and more were discussed. From those meetings, the district created the budget, which was later approved by the Board.

We began the year strong with the announcement of an across-the-board salary increase. Most employees, including teachers, saw an increase of three percent at midpoint, which translated to $2,000 for teachers. Starting salaries for teachers increased to $62,000, making it the fourth highest starting salary in the Houston area. There was only a $52 difference between the district and the third place winner.

Support staff saw an increase of eight percent at midpoint for custodians, groundskeepers, bus attendants, crossing guards, receptionists, aides, clerks and similar positions; making it one of the highest in the area and some food service employees saw even more of a pay raise through job restructuring and recategorizing.

Not only is the district competitive in teacher pay, but in police officer base salary as well; which is important for officer recruitment and retention due to HB3. The district also offers stipends for K-9 handlers and significant overtime opportunities.

The district also has the second lowest employee monthly insurance premium and annual insurance plan premiums. With rising insurance costs statewide, this is a major win for the district and a cost savings for our employees.

The 2023-2024 pay schedule included increases for the people who keep schools going; in and out of the classroom. Groundskeepers, cafeteria workers, bus attendants, clerks and others essential to the district will see higher paychecks, as will teaching staff, on their September 29th paychecks. In addition, employees who have been with the district will see a retention bonus at the end of September ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, and new teachers with bilingual certification will receive up to $3,000. The increases are part of the revised compensation plan approved by the school board last spring. Board president Dr. Darlene Breaux noted employee pay was a priority for the board.

“As we looked at our financial priorities for the budget year, it was important to the Board that we honor the staff’s hard work and commitment to our students,” Dr. Breaux said. “Allocating funds for a raise was imperative to our continued success.”

In addition, Alief is offering a $1,000 referral bonus to employees who recruit certified teachers for the district. The district began the school year with only 24 teacher vacancies and continues its efforts to provide high quality, certified teachers for every classroom.

“The retention bonuses and the pay raise have been great incentives,” Samson Varughese, Olle Middle School robotics teacher said. “They have helped to alleviate some of the issues created by inflation over the recent years and it feels really good to be appreciated for the work that we do.”

Though every financial decision may not be as pleasant, the district continues to examine ways to remain competitive, despite funding challenges affecting most of the state’s school districts. The goal to remain financially solvent in spite of those challenges is what keeps us going.

“I am proud of the work of the Alief team and the sacrifice everyone has made to help us afford to give raises and have a balanced budget,” Dr. Anthony Mays, Superintendent of Schools said. “These are difficult decisions, so we appreciate the support for the tough choices that have to be made.”

K9 Unit a Great Addition to Alief ISD Police Department

House Bill 3 (HB3) in Texas added a new section to the Texas Education Code 37.0814. This new section mandates school boards to determine the appropriate number of armed security officers required for each campus, unless there is a valid reason for an exemption. This approach allows school boards to tailor security measures based on the unique needs of their schools. Additionally, the bill requires the presence of a security officer during school hours. HB3, which was approved by the Texas legislature in May and goes into effect on September 1, 2023, requires an armed officer on every campus.

HB3 relates to measures as it pertains to ensuring public school safety. Part of the framework for school board development is to approve a budget that maximizes resources and to approve goals, policies, and programs that ensures a safe and orderly learning environment. “As Alief ISD Board President I am committed to working collaboratively with the district to ensure that our students and staff are priority when it comes to providing a physically and mentally safe place for teaching and learning” stated Dr. Darlene Breaux, President of Alief ISD Board of Trustees.

The safety and security allotment in the state funding formulas provided approximately $360,000 in 2022-23. The district budgeted approximately $7.5 million for safety and security in the general fund prior to any new requirements for 2023-24 due to HB3. This does not include any bond funds used for safety and security upgrades in addition to general fund dollars. With HB3, Alief’s projected safety and security allotment is projected to be just over $1 million in 2023-24; an increase of approximately $700,000. The state funding increased from $9.72 per student to $10 per student and $15,000 per campus. This increase does not fund the mandates in the bill. School districts are currently struggling to meet the requirements of HB3 due to budget limitations.

Many school districts are facing challenges in hiring officers due to increased demand. Currently, Alief ISD has officers permanently stationed to secondary campuses. “Alief ISD has its own police department and is taking steps to enhance security measures in response to the requirements of HB3,” assured Dr. Anthony Mays, AISD Superintendent. “Hiring certified police officers and providing training help to aid in ensuring familiarity with district procedures and is a proactive approach to maintaining a safe learning environment for students and staff.”

The district is prioritizing safety and taking proactive measures to create a secure learning environment. The deployment of K9 units can indeed be a significant step in enhancing security within the schools. K9 officers can provide a visible presence that deters potential threats and offers reassurance to both students and staff.

“Patrolling 12 schools in a day with K9 units shows a commitment to comprehensive coverage and a rapid response if any security issues arise,” according to AlSD Chief of Police, Dan Turner. “Additionally, using K9 units that are trained to interact well with children and the school environment is crucial to ensure that their presence doesn’t cause unnecessary anxiety or fear among students.”

The addition of the K9 unit in Alief ISD will be beneficial on many levels, but most importantly, as a testament to the district’s commitment to ensuring our students and staff have a safe environment they can call home.

Round-Up introduces future Kindergarteners and parents to schools

The first day of kindergarten can bring excitement, joy and tears for both parents and students. Alief’s Kindergarten Round-Up helps ease that transition with information, campus tours, and other ways to prepare your future kindergartener for school. Kindergarten Round-Up 2023 will be Thursday, April 13, at 5 PM on all Alief elementary campuses.

Children who will be five years old by September 1 are eligible for kindergarten. Families can complete VIP on-site enrollment for their new Alief students at the Round-Up, as well as tour their campuses, introduce their children to the schools with fun activities, attend a parent orientation meeting, and get all their beginning-school questions answered.

Mari Martinez, Alief’s Early Childhood Coordinator, says families can benefit in many ways from attending Kindergarten Round-Up.

“…They can visit the school, tour the classrooms, meet the teachers and administrators, and for incoming students to get a feel for what Kindergarten will be like,” she said. “They’ll be able to participate in hands-on activities, see the playground, practice how to get on a school bus.”

“Parents will also learn about the instructional content their children will be learning about in Kindergarten. They’ll see sample schedules, receive information about spirit shirts, uniforms, materials, and other important information.”

Online registration for new students for the 2023-2024 school year is available here:

New Student Registration

Nuevo Registro De Estudiante En Línea

Giới Thiệu Trực tuyến (New Student Registration)

The form is the same for students new to Alief ISD and for students who did not attend Alief schools in 2022-2023.

Martinez said it will be helpful if families have started the registration process before the Round-Up, but assistance will be provided during the event.

“They should also visit our website ( for additional information provided about our program, as well as registration information.”

Martinez emphasized that future Kindergarteners are part of the registration process. The classroom tours, introductions to teachers and administrators, and practices with buses and procedures will help reduce the tears on the first day of school in August.

“Parents should also bring their incoming kindergarteners with them so they have an opportunity to get to know the campus and the teachers,” she said.

To find your elementary campus, see the map with attendance zones at

Alief elementary campuses are:

Alexander Elementary School, 8500 Brookwulf, 77072, 281-983-8300

Best Elementary School, 10000 Centre Parkway, 77036, 713-988-6445

Boone Elementary School, 11400 Bissonnet, 77099, 281-983-8308

Bush Elementary School, 9730 Stroud, 77036, 713-272-3220

Chambers Elementary School, 10700 Carvel, 77072, 281-983-8313

Chancellor Elementary School, 4350 Boone, 77072, 281-983-8318

Collins Elementary School, 9829 Town Park, 77036, 713-272-3250

Cummings Elementary School, 10455 South Kirkwood, 77099, 281-983-8328

Hearne Elementary School, 13939 Rio Bonito, 77083, 281-983-8333,

Heflin Elementary School, 3303 Synott, 77082, 281-531-1144

Hicks Elementary School, 8520 Hemlock Hill, 77083, 281-983-8040

Holmquist Elementary School, 15040 Westpark, 77082, 281-988-3024

Horn Elementary School, 10734 Bissonnet, 77099, 281-988-3223

Kennedy Elementary School, 10200 Huntington Place, 77099, 281-983-8338

Landis Elementary School, 10255 Spice, 77072, 281-983-8343

Liestman Elementary School, 7610 Synott, 77083, 281-983-8348

Mahanay Elementary School, 13215 High Star, 77083, 281-983-8355

Martin Elementary School, 11718 Hendon, 77072, 281-983-8363

Outley Elementary School, 12355 Richmond, 77082, 281-584-0655

Petrosky Elementary School, 6703 Winkleman, 77083, 281-983-8366

Rees Elementary School, 16305 Kensley, 77082, 281-531-1444

Smith Elementary School, 11300 Stancliff, 77099, 281-983-8380

Sneed Elementary School, 9855 Pagewood Lane, 77042, 713-789-6979

Youens Elementary School, 12141 High Star, 77072, 281-983-8383

Family U partners parents and district in students’ education

Parenting a child in 2023 is no easy task; but Alief ISD is ready with help. One of the most important resources on the parenting journey is Alief Family U, which was held on March 25 from 8 AM to 3:30 PM at the Center for Talent Development.

For more than a decade, Alief has partnered with parents and families in Family U, a one-day conference to aid Alief residents, equipping them with tools to care for their children and themselves. This year’s face-to-face event offered a variety of topics and information from Alief staff and guest speakers.

“Alief families will be equipped with tools to aide them in their parenting journey, no matter the age of their child,” said Shanceler Terry, coordinator of Alief’s Family and Community Engagement, in an interview prior to the conference. “Families will be able to build their skills that will lend to building stronger homes and stronger children.”

Family U started in 2010 as a way to strengthen bonds between schools and families. Noting that children spend much of their time at home, Terry said families have a vital role to play in their students’ education.

“…It is critical that our family efficacy levels are built, and that they feel confident to assist their children academically and emotionally. Over the years, we have witnessed families utilizing the information gained to walk with their children and partner with the school along their child’s educational journey. “

This year’s event included sessions on “All-Pro Dads,” fathers and father-figures who provide a vital role in nurturing children’s growth; understanding how domestic violence impacts children; providing opportunities for creativity and exploration in fine arts and Career and Technical education; understanding the needs of children with dyslexia and executive function disorders; and even sessions on self-care for parents as they take care of children.

“Yes, our families are parents, but they are individuals as well.  So we want to ensure sessions such as ‘Fill Your Bucket’ are offered to help parents and caregivers take care of themselves, before taking care of their children,” Terry said. “This is key for their longevity as parents, and also key for modeling self-care to our students.”

Each year sessions are provided for families with children at all grade levels, from pre-K to grade 12. Childcare is provided, and food, performances, prizes and entertainment are part of the program.

Alief ISD kicks off annual Pre-K Preview event

Families can learn about the unique, hands-on Pre-Kindergarten programs offered in Alief ISD at the annual Pre-K Preview on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The free event takes place at the Center for Talent Development, 14411 Westheimer Road, from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Families of students entering Pre-K in the 2023-24 school year are invited to attend. VIP registration for the next school year is available for families who bring along your child’s birth certificate, proof of address such as an apartment lease or utility bill, and immunization records. Parents of students living outside the Alief ISD attendance boundaries can apply to enroll their children in the district’s innovative Pre-K through the Limited Open Enrollment Program.

In addition, all attendees will receive a lunch box, an Alief coloring book, and a water bottle. Snacks will be provided.

“Studies have shown how important it is for children to get a good educational foundation early on. Children who attend an advanced Pre-K program, like the innovative Pre-K program in Alief ISD, perform at a higher level and are more likely to excel in reading, writing and math,” Kimberly Smith, Director of Public Relations, said. “Parents who want their children to be successful learners really need to take advantage of this enormous opportunity to see the program in action during the Pre-K Preview. It is truly unique and this innovative interactive program is only available in Alief.”

The full-day Pre-K program is free for students who will be four years old by September 1 and who meet requirements, such as eligible family income; English language learner; homelessness/unstable housing; current or past foster care; child of an active duty member of the armed forces; or child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award (first responders). To find out if your child qualifies, contact Student Services at (281) 988-3100.

Alief offers a limited number of tuition-based Pre-K spots in its award-winning early childhood programs as well. The interactive Pre-K program is available to Alief employees and district residents whose children do not qualify for full-day Pre-K. Tuition is $675 per month or $6,750 per year per student.

Registration for the 2023-2024 school year for new and returning Alief students is now open online. New Alief residents can also register students for the current school year at Information on Limited Open Enrollment is available at

See 2023 graduation schedule

Graduation ceremony dates for Alief high schools have been set, with a change of venue for some high schools.

Early College High School Knights will walk the stage at the Don Coleman Coliseum in Spring Branch ISD on Thursday, May 25, at 4 PM, while Kerr High School seniors will receive their diplomas at 7 PM.

Hastings High School will see its seniors cross the stage at 9 AM Friday, June 2; Taylor High School will follow at 2 PM; and Elsik High School seniors will receive their diplomas at 7 PM, all at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy ISD.

The Merrell Center, located at 6301 South Stadium Lane in Katy, is west of Katy Mills Mall and easily accessible from US 10. The new location offers several advantages, according to Area Superintendent Patrick Cherry.

“The venue is closer to the Alief community than [previous location] the Berry Center and does not charge for parking,” he noted. “Graduation would remain in a climate-controlled environment.”

The facility is also spacious enough to accommodate graduates and their families.

“Just like last year, we are still able to give six tickets to each graduating senior,” he said. 

But available dates were a major factor in the decision, Cherry added.

Katy ISD officials “were flexible and allowed us to have a date after May 31, 2023,” he said. “This is important since the state recently pushed back the date for releasing STAAR EOC scores to May 31, 2023.  With a ceremony date after that, it will now allow for all students to have a final opportunity to qualify for graduation and walk with their peers.”

The Coleman Coliseum, located across from Stratford High School at 1050 Dairy Ashford Rd., continues to be a good choice for the Kerr and Early College ceremonies, he said.

“We are excited to return to Coleman Coliseum,” Cherry explained. It “not only accommodates the size of both schools’ graduating class and their families, but it is indoors, close to the Alief community, and parking is free for families.”

The facility works well for the needs of the Early College and Kerr communities, without being too large for the schools.

“Because Kerr graduates more than 200 students, it can be challenging to find a venue large enough for spectators and graduates that still has adequate parking and theater-type seating above the floor level where graduates sit.”

As the dates approach, campuses will provide more information to their seniors about graduation attire, tickets, reporting times, and other details. Information will also be posted online at, maps and parking information are also linked on the graduation webpage.

Graduation gear for all five campuses can be ordered online from Herff-Jones. Graduation photos will be taken by Marc Nathan Photography and will be available to order after the ceremonies at the Grad Photo Network.

Houston Food Bank School Market opens for Spring 2023

Caring for a diverse community of learners can mean providing assistance outside the classroom; that is the mission of the Alief School Market, which has been helping families with basic needs since 2019. The effort began as a way to help with food insecurity and has grown to provide other assistance to the Alief ISD families.

“During the pandemic and since we have seen more requests of our community seeking aid to meet basic needs like rental assistance, housing, and food insecurity,” Isaac Eguia, Alief ISD Family Social worker said. “As Alief continues to recover, the School Market has been very impactful in the fight to end hunger and alleviate some of the hardships our students and families in Alief face.”

The market located in the Alief Annex on High Star Road, is open two days each month through May and allows families of Alief high schools, SOAR, Crossroads and LINC students to browse shelves stocked with food, personal care items and toiletries. Market personnel also provide information on applying for other aid, such as rental assistance.

After shutting down during the Covid pandemic, the market reopened last year with the support of Amazon. This year a partnership with the Houston Food Bank allows the market to provide groceries twice a month to students and families, as well as Alief ISD staff members, Eguia said.

“I receive calls from across the district from counselors, family liaisons, [and administrators] with emergency food needs for many of our students [and] families experiencing crisis like apartment fires, loss of income, evictions, or just no food at home,” he said, noting that when the market opens at 9 AM, it is common to see families who have been lining up since before 8 AM “just to be able to receive some relief.”

Last school year the market assisted more than 1,500 shoppers benefiting nearly 5,000 family members. Since November 2022, the market has seen 760 shoppers with more than 3,200 household members, with eight market days still ahead.

Eguia sees benefits too in the work of the student volunteers from Alief Language Institute for Newcomers (LINC), who run the market. “The level of professionalism, dignity, and customer service they provide is something I am proud of,” he said. “They understand the assignment from registering parents, being personal shoppers for each visitor, or helping carry groceries out to their vehicles, our students know the need of their friends, classmates, and neighbors.”

The young volunteers also help fight the shame families might feel when asking for much-needed assistance.

“One of the biggest hurdles we face is breaking the stigma of accepting food at their schools and taking home food on busses without the fear of being judged by their peers,” Eguia said. “We hope to be creative moving forward in making this market fun and more accepting for our students.”

The remaining 2022-23 dates the Alief School Market is open are February 9 and 23, March 9 and 23, April 13 and 27, and May 11 and 18.

Get a head start on next school year’s registration

Alief families can get a head start on the next school year by signing up students now.

Registration for the 2023-2024 school year is now open online. New Alief residents can also register students for the current school year at

This early start to registration offers families the opportunity to complete required forms and get information on programs, transportation and other services. Online registration is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Non-Alief residents can also apply for limited open enrollment on the web.

“Parents are realizing that Alief ISD is the smart choice when deciding where your child receives an education,” Kimberly Smith, Director of Public Relations, explains. “From our innovative full-day Pre-K programs, distinguished curriculum, and blue ribbon schools to STEM-based programs, industry certifications, nationally ranked athletics and recognized fine arts programs, Alief ISD has something special for any school-aged student.”

The Alief website offers information on options such as the High Schools of Choice; dual-language immersion programs in English, Spanish, and Mandarin; and the newly dedicated Jefferson and Martinez Early Learning Centers, which opened in August 2022 to offer interactive pre-kindergarten education.

In addition, the online registration system includes forms newly added to the site, including Socioeconomic status form, Lunch Application, Attendance agreement, Residency questionnaire, Transportation and ridership policies and rules, and Parent and Student Acknowledgement page, offering the convenience of electronic submission for documents formerly only available on paper.

Registration is available 24/7 year-round, although special programs have application deadlines.

Vet Science Program offers microchip service to help pet owners with new city ordinance compliance

New Houston City ordinances now require pets to have microchips, and the students in Veterinary Science program at the Alief Center for Advanced Careers can help. For only $20, microchipping services are available by appointment at CAC for dogs and cats at least four months old.

Microchipping is one of the services offered to community pet owners at the CAC since it opened five years ago, explains Phyllis Sams, a Licensed Veterinary Technician who teaches science and advised the FFA at the center. The recent city ordinance, which went into effect Feb. 1, 2023, is making the service more important for area residents.

“Most people think that microchipping is a tracker for your pet,” she said. “It is to an extent, but not in the way most people think of it.” The tiny chips implanted under the pet’s skin include numbers registered in a national database; when lost animals are found, they are scanned for the chips, and the database provides the owner’s contact information so that the pets can be returned.

“Here in the Veterinary Science program, we go ahead and register the pets for the clients before they leave here. This prevents those incidents where the owner gets home and forgets to register the microchip number,” Sams added. “We remind our customers always make sure to keep their phone numbers and address up to date in the system, so that it makes reuniting them and their pet a much easier process.”

Community members who use the services of the Veterinary Science program at the CAC benefit from lower costs and shorter wait times; because all services require preregistration, pet owners will not face long lines, as they do at one-day microchipping events held around the city.

Students benefit from working with a variety of animals and their owners in providing a variety of pet-care services. Sams said she and her teaching partner perform most of the microchip implantations, while students hold and comfort the pets; but advanced Practicum students who wish to learn the procedure themselves can practice on a mannequin until their teachers feel they are ready. “We do not require our students to perform microchipping, it is at their own discretion if this is something they feel comfortable doing and want to learn.”

Students become proficient in other services offered at the CAC, such as bathing, gland expression, ear cleaning, nail trimming and filing, combing and de-shedding, basic haircuts and hygiene clipping, teeth brushing, and doggy daycare. Services are available individually or in packages.

The Veterinary Sciences services are provided Monday through Friday during the school year, with drop-off from 6:45 to 9 AM and pickup from 2 to 2:45 PM.

“Although we are not a professional grooming service or veterinary clinic, we run our classroom as if it were one,” Sams said. “We appreciate the clientele that is willing to give our students daily opportunities with their pets.”

For the students, providing care allows them to practice professional interactions with pet owners, like setting up appointments and making reminder calls; they also get to see and perform services they would not be able to learn in a traditional classroom.

“…they get that hands-on education where we get to take what we are learning and apply it to a real-world situation,” Sams said. “It is all about client education, but it starts with teaching our students how to educate our clients.”