At Dallas ISD's benefits focus on whole-community health – Employee Benefit News

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The Dallas Independent School District serves 145,000 students across 230 schools, served by 22,000 professionals. As the executive director of human capital management, Diedrae Bell-Hunter feels a responsibility to each of them. 
COVID was no small hurdle for anyone in education. Bell-Hunter, who heads the district’s benefits department, put new leave policies in place throughout the pandemic to ensure that employees had access to time beyond their standard PTO. Additionally, a shared “sick-leave bank” allows workers to donate a single PTO day per year in exchange for the right to borrow up to 40 additional days as needed. 
Now, Bell-Hunter is looking to the future — and preparing for the next challenge. 
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With COVID moving behind us, what do you anticipate will be a priority this school year?
The mental health and wellness of our entire environment — children and staff. COVID has had an extreme impact on mental health, and one of our main benefit initiatives this year is figuring out how to get people access to service, and how to get them to participate in their mental health in a way that isn’t just reactionary. It’s my department’s responsibility to provide access to care to the adults — and their families — who work with those kids every day. 
You brought benefits in-house a few years ago. How has that changed how you serve your community? 
Our internal team is able to act like an advisory firm, and really deliver concierge service to our employees, helping them understand claims or find a specialist,  and utilize these programs. 
These are high-stakes responsibilities. How do you relieve stress? 
My team inspires me every day, and they never let me have a bad day. But good leaders need a BMW space — bitch, moan and whine. We create that space in team meetings, get stuff off our chests, and then get right into positive affirmations.
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