Natalia ISD issues annual retention stipend to employees prior to Christmas

Natalia ECC staff Jennifer Velasquez and Karen Bedford with Natalia School Board President Eric Smith.

By Anton Riecher
The Natalia ISD board took action last week to approve and distribute $109,000 in retention stipend checks to the district’s more than 200 employees, board president Eric Smith said.
“Every person from the janitor to the superintendent will get a $500 check,” Smith said.

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Vote…City of Natalia and Natalia ISD elections early voting continues
City has three, School has two positions up

Voting in both the Natalia ISD and City of Natalia elections will be hosted on the same ballots as the General Election ballot where the county and state races are listed. So voting can be done at any polling location in Medina County.
City of Natalia
City of Natalia has five candidates on the ballot running for three positions: Selica Vera (incumbent), Sam Smith (incumbent), Mike Fernandez (incumbent), and challengers Lorie Crouch and Jolene Talamantez.
Vote for one, two or three on the ballot. These are three at large positions.
Natalia ISD
Natalia ISD has three candidates running for two at large positions this year. They are Danielle Alderete, Gordon Gentry, Sr. (incumbent) and Darin L. Frazier.
Vote for one or two.
Polling locations:
Combined Early Voting will start on Monday, October 24, 2022 and run through November 4, 2022 in Medina County.
You may vote at ANY polling location within Medina County during the election, both early voting and on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.
The closest polls are in Devine for early voting at the Medina County Pct. 4 Annex Bldg, 317 Hwy 132 N., Devine across from Tractor Supply.
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th from 7am-7pm, you can vote in Natalia at the Natalia First Baptist Church Youth Bldg at 300 Pearson St, Natalia, Texas or in Devine at Medina County Pct. 4 Annex Bldg, 317 Hwy 132 N., or at any polling location in Medina County in Hondo, Castroville, D’Hanis, and even in Mico.
See Medina County election story for further details on times and locations of the General Election which includes the Natalia elections.

Mustang & Pirate Bands Making History!

The Award-Wining Natalia Mustang Band (pictured above) placed 2nd at Area E Competition for the second consecutive year. If it were an advancing year the band would be making its second back-to-back trip to State!
The Lytle Pirate Band earned 7th place out of 35 bands in Area prelims. Then, for the first time in the history of Lytle ISD, this amazing group of performers progressed to the Finals. The Lytle High School band placed 5th in the Finals and were all overcome with emotion knowing that they would have qualified for the State Marching Competition had this been an advancing year! Congratulations to both bands! The Devine HS band will perform at Area this Saturday. Photo by Alyssa Sprenger 
 were all overcome with emotion knowing that we would have qualified for State Marching Competition had this been an advancing year! 

Natalia Homecoming Parade, Community Pep Rally and Tailgate

Natalia will host a homecoming parade, community pep rally and tailgate on Wednesday, October 12th. The Parade will start at 6:30 pm with the pep rally and tailgate to immediately follow.
The parade will start at the High School parking lot, travel down Kearney to Hwy. 132 and pass in front of the City Office before turning up Miller Street to finish at the Mustang Stadium parking lot.
If you are interested in entering a float in the Homecoming Parade, please go to https://forms.gle/LSVCFDgTUjNMphja7 and complete the form. Deadline to submit the form is October 7, 2022.

Devine to host first home football game Friday, Natalia and Lytle on the road

Ethan Santos runs the ball up the middle and down the right side.

The Devine Warhorses will host their first football game at home this Friday, August 26, kickoff is 7:00 pm against SA Memorial in a non-district game. JV does not have a game on the schedule for this week.
Natalia Mustangs will travel to Jourdanton to take on the Indians; kickoff is 7:00 p.m. in a non-district game. The JV will host Jourdanton on Thursday at 5:30 at home in Natalia.
The Lytle Pirates will travel to Jefferson; kickoff is 7:30 p.m. in a non-district game. The JV will play at Jefferson on Thursday at 5:0 0 p.m.

Local schools meet the grade, earn “B”s in accountability ratings

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today released 2022 A–F accountability ratings for districts and campuses, the first to be issued since 2019. All three of our local school districts received a B, with Devine ISD scoring 81, Lytle ISD-86, and Natalia ISD-88.

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Local schools struggle to fill job openings

Devine and Natalia ISDs are among many Texas schools battling staffing shortages for the upcoming school year . School is slated to start August 9 in Natalia, August 11 in Lytle, and August 22 in Devine.
Natalia ISD had 4 unfilled positions as of this week.
“In my 22 years in education, I have never seen it like this,” said Natalia ISD Superintendent Harry Piles. “This has been most challenging. I’ve never had multiple individuals actually decline a contract after going through all the interviews and getting to that point. I currently have four spots open, so what I am going to recommend to the board is that we hire paraprofessional aides to help fill in, while we continue to search for teachers.”
In other cases, some classes will just “be a little larger than we’d like,” especially at the secondary level where staffing has been most challenging, Piles adds. He also noted that he appreciates how staff has come together as a team to adjust and fill in where they are most needed.
Devine ISD has 10 open positions still listed on their website, and administrators were not immediately available to say if any of those have been filled. There are also 4 additional positions listed on their website, for which applications are accepted year-round.
Another educator commented that the shortage hit hard and fast.
“It’s hard to be competitive with the benefits offered by San Antonio schools,” said Dawn Schnieder, Director of Student Services at Devine ISD. She also noted, “The staffing shortage wasn’t even gradual. It sort of hit us all at once across the state.”
The statewide staffing shortage is so bad that several rural school districts in Texas have made the jump to 4-day school weeks to incentivize educators and compete, according to The Texas Tribune. In their extensive coverage they cited school safety issues, Covid protocol, and tensions surrounding race and gender issues. TEA also launched a Teacher Vacancy Task Force.
On the other hand, Lytle ISD was happy to state they have filled all positions, which Superintendent Michelle Smith attributes to a special effort by staff early on to help with recruitment of educators.
“Recruitment is at an all time low with the exiting of educators in the field if education and few college students electing the field as a degree plan,” Lytle Superintendent Smith said. “We have called on our Pirate family to assist in the recruitment of educators to fill our openings and we are proud to say they have come through with numerous quality applicants enabling us to start the year fully staffed. Our employees reached out to family and friends who might not otherwise have known about our openings. We hired several qualified educators as a result. We are also looking forward to using our PTECH grant to create a “grow your own program” beginning in 23/24 enabling our students to obtain a no cost bachelor’s degree in education.”
Devine’s Superintendent Grandjean was not immediately available for a comment on press day.

DEVINE ISD (the following openings and job descriptions were still posted as of this July 26):
Elementary School Special Education Aide (PK-2)
Must meet ESSA ‘Highly Qualified’ requirements (48 college hrs./2 yrs. or attend TOPP training at ESC 20) and local criteria. Must have knowledge of basic computer operations and skills; ability to operate personal computer and educational software; ability to work with students and teachers effectively; effective organization, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Criminal Background/Fingerprinting Required.
Intermediate School 4th Grade Teacher
Generalist EC-4 and/or 4-8 or Generalist EC-6 Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and maintain highly structured and orderly environment; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Intermediate School Special Education Teacher (3-5)
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas special education teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills; knowledge of special needs students; ability to develop IEP through ARD committee process; plan and use appropriate instructional and learning strategies.
CPI training preferred.
Middle School Special Education (Math) Teacher (6-8)
Math 4-8 (preferred) or Generalist 4-8 and Special
Education Certified Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas special education teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subject; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills; knowledge of special needs students; ability to develop IEP through ARD committee process; plan and use appropriate instructional and learning strategies. CPI and behavior management training preferred.
High School Teacher (9-12) (ESSER funded)
ELAR 8-12 or Math 8-12 (preferred); Science or Composite Science 8-12; Social Studies or Social Studies Composite Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills.
High School English Teacher (9-12) tentative
ELAR 8-12
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct student and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Pre AP & AP certified preferred or training required. ESL certified preferred or willingness to obtain certification
High School Math Teacher (9-12)
Certified Math 8-12
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills; MA preferred. Pre-AP and AP Calculus certified preferred or training required. ESL certification preferred or willingness to obtain certification.
High School Science Teacher (9-12) OR High School Science Teacher w/Boys’ Athletic Coach or Girls’ Head Softball (9-12)
Science Composite 6-12 or Science Composite 9-12 or Science 6-12 or Science 9-12
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills.
High School Math Teacher (9-12) OR High School Math Teacher/Boys’ Athletic Coach or Girls’ Head Softball (9-12)
Certified Math 8-12 and Physical Education K-12
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills; MA preferred. Pre-AP and AP certified preferred or training required. ESL certification preferred or willingness to obtain certification
High School Spanish Teacher/Athletic Coach (9-12)
Secondary Spanish 6-12; Physical Education K-12
Bachelor’s degree with valid Texas teaching certificate; ability to demonstrate competency in core academic subjects; general knowledge of curriculum and instruction; ability to instruct students and manage behavior; strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Substitutes for Nurses
Minimum Requirement-Medical Assistant
Bus Drivers
CDL and Criminal Background/Fingerprinting Required
Custodian(s)
Criminal Background/Fingerprinting Required
Cafeteria Worker
Criminal Background/Fingerprinting Required
We are an equal opportunity employer who fully and actively supports equal access for all people, regardless of Race, Color, Religion, Gender, Age, National Origin or Disability.

Natalia ISD (the following openings and job descriptions were still posted as of this July 26):

Digital Communications Teacher & District Public Relations (9th-12th)
2022-23 JobID: 475
Position Type: High School Teaching
Business Education Teacher (9th-12th)
(Coaching Opportunities available)
JobID: 490
Position Type: High School Teaching
Math Intervention Teacher (6th-8th; ESSER)
2022-23 School year JobID: 481
Position Type: Junior High School Teaching

US History Teacher
2022-23 School year

6-1 vote, Natalia enters Guardian Program to protect schools

By Anton Reicher
The Natalia ISD school board voted Monday to approve proposed 2022-2023 district budget of $13.5 million, a 7.6 percent increase from the previous year.
Also, the board voted 6-1 to institute the Texas School Guardian Program, an integrated school security program to manage the risk of active shooter violence by arming key members of the staff and faculty. The program is already in place in the Devine, Hondo and D’Hanis school districts.
Regarding the budget vote, the new budget raises the starting pay for classroom teachers five percent. Under the new compensation plan, teachers will see a minimum increase of $750 up to $3,850 depending on the years of experience held.
Board president Eric Smith attributed the balanced budget to district director of finance Norma Fiddle working closely with the district administrators.
In other action, the board heard presentations from the district administration and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office about the Guardian program, developed as an effort to have an armed defensive approach to an active shooter on campus.
“We will be working with the city and the sheriff’s office to select appropriate staff members for the program,” Smith said. “We also implemented a $500 stipend for the staff members who will be going through the rigorous training to be ready for the next school year.”
The action comes in the wake of the May 24 shooting massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Smith said the action by the board was informed by a community survey conducted by the district in which 88 percent of the 700 responses favored research into the possible adoption of the program.
The program requires 16 hours of training by a licensed and certified Department of Public Safety instructor. Training requires live fire qualification and simulation exercises.
Paul Almendarez voted against implementing the new security program, with all other board members voting in favor.

Valedictorian escorted by firefighters in honor of her dad

Pictured above, Daniana Vera is escorted at graduation by these two firefighters in honor of her dad, the late Danny Vera. Photo by Mable Byrd

Veronica Vera would like to say a big “thank you” to Chief Charles Hood and SAFD for being there to support Natalia HS Valedictorian, Daniana Vera, just like her dad would have wanted to. “Danny has been gone for 6 years now and it is so amazing for these guys to still fill in. This is a true brotherhood of firefighters!”