AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District is eliminating 632 jobs in an effort to give more pay to teachers and help balance its budget. Current teachers and campus staff are not being let go, AISD explained, but rather roles are being moved around within the district in a process called “leveling.”

The district ensured there hasn’t been any teacher layoffs as a result.

AISD told KXAN 375 of positions cut are at the Central Office in various departments, including administration, operations, communications and academics. Those employees will work through June, according to Austin ISD. 

The district said 257 were at campuses but emphasized there were no layoffs connected to these cuts. Instead, the district said it simply didn’t fill certain jobs because of enrollment shortages. 

“We know for this school year, we staffed for around 77,000 students, and we only saw 75,000 students show up. We staffed for a lot more students than we had to, so a lot of those additional teachers we had to move around to different campuses,” Eduardo Villa, AISD spokesperson, explained.  

The district said a majority of the staffing cuts were made by eliminating vacancies throughout the year and through attrition, which includes resignations and retirements. 

These cuts will allow the district to raise pay for teachers. According to Austin ISD, next year: 

  • Teachers will get a $1,000 increase for base pay and a 2% raise at the midpoint for teachers (the salary midpoint is the middle point of a teacher’s salary range minimum and maximum. The midpoint increase would give teachers in the same paygrade an equal raise regardless of salary). 
  • Bus drivers will get a pay increase to a minimum of $21 per hour.
  • Classified staff will now have a minimum base pay of $16 per hour. 

This all comes as the district hopes to present a balanced budget to the board of trustees in June, which would be a first in nearly a decade.  

The district said it is looking at federal funding known as the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund or ESSER Fund to address what could be a $6.6 million deficit. It hopes this will lead to a net balance of $24 million.   

For the first time ever, Austin ISD said it is investing $2 million in an “equity allotment” to support campuses with economically-disadvantaged students. Those investments are expected to help campuses fund school clubs, special afterschool activities and athletic equipment for families who may be unable to pay out-of-pocket. 

While the district makes these changes and attempts to balance its budget, it is still dealing with a $37.3 million increase in recapture payments it must send to the state. This means the district will send $798.6 million in the 2022-23 school year.  

In a recent memo posted to its website, Austin ISD said, “because of Austin’s skyrocketing property values and the district’s stagnant enrollment, Austin ISD pays more in recapture than the next three highest-paying school districts in Texas—Houston, Plano and Midland—combined.” 

Recapture is also known as “Robin Hood”, and it’s designed to help “property-poor” districts through taxpayer dollars from “property-rich” districts.