PAISD trustee proposes teacher housing

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, September 24, 2015

Board asks attorney to research robust incentive program

Joseph Guillory II proposed a new teachers’ incentive Monday night that alluded to the campaign promise of change that helped him beat out three of the Port Arthur Independent School District’s most experienced trustees in the May 2015 election.

Directly after board vice president Robert Reid assured the audience no issue is more critical to the district than repaying a total of $30.5 million in collected taxes to Valero and the board cut the athletics director position from the 2016-17 roster, Guillory posited Port Arthur ISD has an opportunity to do more not just to attract new teachers but to retain the ones it has.

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Guillory said the district has acres of unused land in underdeveloped and devalued neighborhoods that could be turned into “high-end” housing for existing and incoming Port Arthur ISD teachers.

“This has never been done in the state of Texas,” Guillory started Monday, “but it would ensure we attract the best of the best to Port Arthur. Currently, we have an area no one wants to come to. We have about 15 acres out where the old Franklin Elementary School that could be used for 40 to 75 new, high-end houses — nothing that will attract low-income housing.

“It’s all about adding value to the city and rewarding our district employees. Your job is your guarantee. There’s an opportunity for you here, and we value you as an employee of the Port Arthur Independent School District. We could attract teacher we wouldn’t normally have access to, and it would help the city get people back south of (Texas) 73.”

Guillory said the district owns land in Port Acres and along West Thomas Boulevard that could be used to kickoff a revitalization effort in the city of Port Arthur.

“We could create a frenzy and encourage the city, the EDC, the local refineries to get involved in this project,” Guillory said. “This could be the thing that changes everything and gets Port Arthur back on the map.”

PAISD Attorney Melody Chappell said the district has no land selected for such an incentive program at this time.

“It’s an effort to help increase the number of teachers in the district, but the Board has to decide if this is something you would like to look into,” she said. “There are a lot of legalities when you’re talking about building homes on property for other individuals to use.

“But the first thing we have to do before I can even look at what the options would be is for you to discuss it among yourselves. There is nothing the administration or I can do for this without the board’s authority.”

The board did not discuss the possible teacher housing any further Monday night, but President Thomas Kinlaw III asked Chappell to research Guillory’s proposal and report back at a future meeting.

Twitter: @crhenderson90