Abilene ISD teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians are in for a large pay increase, no matter their experience level.
School district trustees approved, in a 4-3 vote Monday evening, to give at least 6% increases to every teacher this coming school year.
It was a plan proposed by Trustee Samuel Garcia that won barely enough support to become the adopted salary schedule, thanks to board President Randy Piersall giving his approval despite vocally advocating for a different plan.
"In the end, I wanted teachers to get as big of a raise as possible," Piersall said after the vote. "The issue I had was with beginning teachers making close to what experienced teachers make. And after conversations, I realized that's not a problem that's going to be fixed overnight."
Piersall and Garcia were joined in their support by trustees Angie Wiley and Billy Enriquez. Trustees Danny Wheat, Daryl Zeller and Cindy Earles voted against the plan, though they openly supported the other alternative that promised one percent lower increases to teachers with 10 years of experience or less.
The difference between the two plans was less than $230,000 in a spending plan of almost $140 million.
Under the approved plan, new teachers starting with zero years of experience, will earn $47,000. This past school year, that starting salary was $45,000.
Calculating everyone else's increase will be easier, thanks to the district eliminating a confusing midpoint pay raise plan started two years ago.
Teachers with five or less years of experience will receive a 6% bump in pay. Those with six through 15 years of experience will get a 7% bump. The largest pay raise, 8%, is reserved for teachers with 16 or more years of experience.
So, a teacher who just finished their first year in May will collect $47,700 next school year, $2,700 more than last school year. Likewise, a teacher with 10 years of experience will receive $51,360 ($3,360 more than last school year) and those with 25 years experience will be paid $60,588 ($4,488 more than last school year).
There is some concern among trustees, and among state lawmakers, that the funding formula in the house bill might not be feasible long-term.
Wheat said he was happy to hear those on the board discuss the viability of the current system and be aware that it might not be the same situation for teachers in two years when the next legislative session reevaluates school funding.
While Wheat voted against the eventually adopted plan, he said both of the options were great.
As for those on contracts other than teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses, trustees approved separate raises for them which include midpoint calculations.
These raises are part of the state's plan for House Bill 3, which provided Abilene ISD with about $13 million in additional state revenue.
In that law, lawmakers demanded district use 30% of the extra money to give raises to every employee aside from administrators. Of that 30%, 75% must be given to teachers and those with similar contracts.
In Abilene ISD, teachers, librarians and nurses share a contract. Counselors were also given the same raises approved by the board.
Under the rules of House Bill 3, AISD needed to provide about $4 million in new money. The approved plan includes more than $6 million in raises.
With the employee compensation plan out of the way, trustees will next meet during a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 26 to approve the district's tax rate, revenue budget and spending plan.
The district's finances are almost ironed out, with estimated $141.6 million in revenues and $139.1 million in expenses expected to be decided by trustees.
The tax levy, affected by the district's recent approval of a $138.7 million bond and the state's reduction of the maintenance and operations tax from $1.04 per $100 valuation to 97 cents per $100 valuation, will be finalized before the meeting.
By Timothy Chipp
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