You are not alone this summer

While the district is closed for summer break a number of resources are available for help with benefits questions.

District schools and administrative offices will be closed for summer break from Monday, June 29, through Friday, July 3, but the benefits call center will be open from 7:30 to 5 p.m. through the week to answer calls from staff.

For non-emergency health concerns, TRS Aetna ActiveCare participants can utilize Teladoc at a reduced cost.  Call 1-855-Teladoc (835-2362) or visit their main page.

If you have questions regarding your FSA, you can contact Connect Your Care at 877-528-9876 or visit www.connectyourcare.com.  Connect Your Care is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You may reach the benefits call center at (972) 925-4000 or email benefits@dallasisd.org.  For questions regarding leaves of absence, email benefitsleaves@dallasisd.org.  During the periods in which the district is closed, the email boxes will be monitored periodically to ensure any critical issues are resolved in a timely manner.

Find the best fit

With the launch of its new School Finder, Dallas ISD is providing families with a more effective tool to connect with a school that best meets the educational needs of their children. SchoolFinder makes it easier for families to navigate the school choice process and better understand their options.

Dallas ISD’s SchoolFinder combines all the data about the district’s 230 schools into an easy-to-navigate, bilingual website where families can research schools by grade level, proximity, academic programs, school performance and other criteria to facilitate decision making.

The new SchoolFinder replaces a system that limited families to searching for schools based solely on their home address. With the increasing number of school choices, including tuition-based prekindergarten, Dallas ISD families needed a tool that helped them easily explore the wealth of options available throughout the district.

“Dallas ISD offers a variety of excellent choices for Dallas families who are looking for the school that best fits their child’s learning needs and aspirations,” said Keisha Crowder-Davis, executive director of Transformation and Innovation. “This interactive tool makes finding that special school so much easier and practical for parents and helps them make a more informed decision so their children can be enrolled at the best Dallas ISD school for them.”

SchoolFinder offers new and powerful ways families can find a best-fit school, including options to search for schools based on their child’s interests. This option guides parents through a search based on location, grade level, and responses to  a set of questions about specific interests and the aspects that matter  most in a school.

The search yields a list of schools that match those specifications ranked by score. The list may include schools that families had not previously considered, including neighborhood schools. Parents can then more deeply research each school on the list by clicking on a link that takes them to the school’s profile. Comparing schools from the list based on preferred criteria, they can also make better informed decisions. Once families identify their favorites, the schools can be bookmarked on SchoolFinder so they are available when families are ready to embark on the enrollment process.

A new enrollment tool that facilitates a seamless enrollment process will be added to SchoolFinder on Nov. 1, 2020.

To access SchoolFinder, visit www.dallasisd.org/schoolfinder. For questions or help navigating SchoolFinder, call (972) 925-5560 or email enroll@dallasisd.org.

Want to design the future?

If you do, take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Office of Transformation and Innovation to design a future Hybrid Transformation School. OTI has launched the application process to identify design team leads and team members to develop a Public School Choice 7.0 proposal for a future hybrid school that would tentatively launch in the fall of 2021.

The Opportunity

  • Participate in several school design process webinars
  • Provide expertise in helping to imagine, investigate and develop a comprehensive model for an effective competency-focused student learning experience
  • Collaborate with a several central staff department experts to develop and submit a Public School Choice 7.0 proposal on Jan. 5, 2021
  • Launch the first Hybrid Transformation School in Dallas ISD

Application Timeline

  • Application is available starting on June 24
  • Application closes July 24
  • Team announced first week of August

Start the application here. For more information about this exciting opportunity, contact OTI Director Shakeatha Butler at shakbutler@dallasisd.org.

 

Be travel savvy

New travel practices and protocols for district business have been implemented in order to follow recommended safety guidelines and ensure the safety and well-being of all.

  • Out-of-district travel for professional development, conferences, or meetings that are not provided by Dallas ISD is not allowed prior to Sept. 4, 2020.
  • In-district travel to district facilities should be scheduled to minimize the number of work sites visited each day.
  • Exceptions must be approved by the employee’s Divisional Chief and HCM.

While families may have travel plans during summer break, Dallas ISD discourages international travel during the COVID pandemic. Employees who have traveled internationally should stay home for 14 days after their arrival into the United States. At home, employees should monitor their health and practice social distancing. See the CDC’s international travel webpage.

For additional information on the district’s new travel guidelines, visit www.dallasisd.org/educationevolution and click on the Central Staff Re-entry Playbook.

 

Tech hub offers support

As the daily use of technology by staff and students continues to expand, the Information Technology Division has implemented a new ticketing system to meet support needs. The new system is called Support Hub and is a one-stop shop for customer questions and new technology requests.

Once employees sign in to Support Hub with their EAD credentials, they will be able to create a ticket, explore a series of helpful downloadable articles, see system notifications, or make a request for technology.

The new system allows users to choose how they communicate with IT, while providing a single location to fulfill their technology needs. Within Support Hub, users can:

  1. Send an email to the Help Desk
  2. Connect via chat with a virtual support agent after hours or a live agent during work hours.
  3. Call the IT support help desk.

The system also can be accessed using the IOS or Android app on a mobile phone.

Staff can reach the new system at https://supporthub.dallasisd.org.

 

Tracing contacts for safety

As part of its efforts to provide a safe and secure environment, Dallas ISD has implemented contact tracing procedures, which are part of a public health process used to halt the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Health Services in collaboration with Operation Services and Human Capital Management will be conducting contact tracing throughout the district.

Contact tracing procedures

The contact tracing process is initiated when the district is notified that an employee has received a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

The first step is to let the district know of a suspected or confirmed diagnosis by filling out the appropriate form or contacting a supervisor who will then contact Health Services to trigger the contact tracing.

Health Services will then contact the employee to provide information on isolation requirements, return to work protocols and resources. They will also begin the process of determining who at work came in contact with the person who has been diagnosed. Once this information is gathered, Health Services will then contact the employees who may have been exposed and provide information on quarantine requirements and return to work protocols.

Exposure generally involves having had close contact within the workplace two days before symptoms began or two days before a positive test results. Within 24 of receiving notice, Operation Services will provide an intensive cleaning with an industrialized germ spray for exposed areas by completing the following:

Confidentiality is key

Contact tracing is a private process. As part of local, state and federal laws, an employee’s personal information may not be released to the public or shared. Employees are prohibited from disclosing confidential information about other employees.

Notification will be provided when the purpose of the notice is to control spread of the infection and protect those who have been potentially exposed.

For more information about contact tracing and other safety precautions implemented by Dallas ISD as employees transition to working in district facilities, visit www.dallasisd.og/educationevolution and click on Central Staff Re-entry Playbook.

 

 

Getting to know Royse Thigpen

Royse Thigpen
Coordinator | Benefits
Human Capital Management
Years in the position: 20
Years in Dallas ISD: 20

What do you do in your position?

As a benefits coordinator specializing in retirement, one of the things I tried to specialize in is TRS rules, regulations and requirements so I can do retirement counseling. I try to answer all the questions retirees have. I also work with other like compensation and payroll in how the TRS rules apply to them. It gives me an opportunity to focus on the needs of whoever it is, employee or department, trying to understand their needs from their perspective.

What do you enjoy most/what is your favorite thing about what you do in your position?

What I enjoy most is having the opportunity to serve others. People come to me who have never retired before and it’s a new start for them. I enjoy explaining how rules work and the procedure, and it’s Core 4 customer service to me if I can find out what their needs are, focus and work through issues with flexibility.

Another thing I enjoy is that I do the majority of the new employee orientations. People come up to me rewarding later and tell me that they first met me at their orientations. You are the face of employee benefits. What we want to do is serve the needs of our employees. If teachers are focused on teaching their kids, they don’t need to worry about their retirement or benefits. They need someone who can help them or get an answer so they can focus on what they do. And I’m glad I can help them.

What was your favorite subject in high school?

Math because it came the easiest to me. My dad was an accountant, so I guess all of us have a little bit of an accountant mentality.

When you take notes during a meeting—paper or electronic? Or is it all in your head?

I take brief notes in a piece of paper because I have been successful in remembering what was said and how it related to the subject. After the meeting, I might summarize it briefly in computer. I usually go back and digest it and put it in my mental file.

What is your favorite restaurant? Food?

My favorite restaurant is Prego Pasta House on Greenville. Every birthday, I go over there with the family and have chicken fried steak. It’s off the menu, but if you know to order it, they’ll make it for you.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Dependability. If you find someone you can trust and depend on when you need them that is invaluable. I try to be like that.

What is your idea of happiness?

Family. Because they are the ones that you should be able to depend on, the ones you love and care for. You want to see your family do well. When I am with family is when I am happiest.

Are you a dog, cat, fish or no pets person? Why?

Dog person. We have a little rescue dog that was really mistreated and has been quite a process to get her to settle down. We finally succeeded in convincing her that we are not going to hurt her, that we are here to take care of her. Her name is Poppy, and she is a shih tzu and poodle mix.

 

 

 

 

 

Court’s ruling keeps Dreamers’ hope alive

Every American with a dream can breathe a little easier today after the Supreme Court’s ruling that lets stand for now the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The ruling is a vindication of the country’s time-honored promise that success is within reach of anyone willing to work hard, save, obey the law and become a productive member of society. As the immigrant son of Mexican immigrants, I count myself and my family among those who have realized this promise. I stand with those who applaud the court for making a decision that affirms the country’s tradition of embracing immigrants.

Created by President Barack Obama eight years ago, DACA promised the Dreamers—undocumented immigrants brought here as children—that if they met certain requirements, they would be allowed to live and work temporarily in the U.S. In his executive memorandum announcing DACA, Obama voiced the hope that federal legislation would make the promise permanent. While Congress debated how to protect the Dreamers’ right to remain in the only country most have ever known, the case wound its way to the Supreme Court.

As lawyers and court watchers parse the outcome of today’s ruling, and as questions persist around the larger issue of immigration, it is good news that Dreamers are free to pursue their life goals and continue making contributions to the nation. The Dallas Independent School District is fortunate to have 88 of them in our ranks, including 41 teachers who bring important skills and valuable perspectives to students in need of worthy young role models.

The Dreamers have already enriched our country and have much more to offer. While the full impact of the court’s ruling has yet to be clearly revealed, Thursday’s ruling is a breath of fresh air and cause for hope.

NOTE: For more about Dallas ISD’s position on DACA, visit www.dallasisd.org/daca, a webpage with resources and information.

 

 

In-person return for all staff postponed until Aug. 3

After consideration of the latest COVID-19 data and the rising number of cases in Dallas County and in the district, district employees will be expected to report to work in-person on Monday, August 3, instead of the original date of July 6. The district will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional guidance.

The safety and well-being of staff are top priorities for Dallas ISD as the district transitions to returning to district facilities. New practices and protocols have been implemented to follow recommended safety guidelines from federal, state, and local health officials.

The district will continue to screen staff as they arrive at district facilities and strongly encourage the use of face masks, social distancing in common areas (lobbies, elevators, conference rooms, break rooms, supply rooms, etc.) and frequent hand washing. Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes will be available at all work sites.

Employees will continue to be encouraged to take a working lunch, which means they will be required to work a 10-hour day. Employees who take a working lunch will be compensated for this time, which will be considered part of normal work hours. This will reduce the need for staff to leave for lunch and receive food deliveries and well as limit lobby and elevator traffic. Working lunches will reduce the need for additional pre-screening upon re-entry to the building and will maximize employee safety.

Employees who require a non-working lunch break should check in and out for that time, and should report earlier to ensure the 10 work hours are completed before the building closes at 7 p.m. Nonexempt employees will be able to use the biometric clock or the Web Clock to check in and out. Exempt employees should confirm their check-in procedures with their supervisors.

All buildings will close at 7 p.m. to allow for intensive cleaning in preparation for the next workday.

For more information about the re-entry plan and to see a copy of the Education Evolution playbook for central staff, visit www.dallasisd.org/educationevolution.

Pre-K scholarships available at J.J. Rhoads

Dallas ISD is offering scholarships for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds to attend J.J. Rhoads All-Day Learning Center in South Dallas at no cost starting this August.

The scholarship guidelines are designed to increase opportunity by making early learning available to more Dallas families.

Families can qualify and receive a scholarship based on the following criteria:

  1. Dallas ISD’s historical academic needs, as identified in district data (currently identified as African American students).
  2. Expanded income bracket: meet scholarship income guidelines.

 

Household SizeNew Income Limits
3$63,991
4$77,251
5$90,511

* More family sizes/ income limits are available.

  1. English language proficiency. Families of all races and ethnicities may request that their 3- or 4- year-old be tested for English proficiency.

To submit an application:

  • Go to our website: PreKDallas.org
  • Call the Pre-K Enrollment Hotline at (214) 932-7735 if you have questions or need help. The call center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
  • Text PREK to (972)-687-7735
  • Email PreK@dallasisd.org.