AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid rising inflation and teacher shortages, school boards all across Central Texas are trying to do what they can to keep their employees in their districts.

Lack of compensation was one of the key areas highlighted by teachers as a reason for quitting, according to a survey by the Association of Texas Professional Educators last month.

As one Austin ISD teacher said in the survey, teachers “can’t afford to live in areas close to where we work unless we have two-three extra jobs or take on extra duties.” A reading specialist in Leander ISD commented, “I think teachers’ pay does not match the amount of physical, mental and emotional work we do every day.”

KXAN has compiled teacher salary information for almost 60 school districts across Central Texas. The vast majority of school boards have voted to increase pay for the 2022-23 school year.

For consistency, KXAN looked at starting salaries for teachers with no experience.

Of the districts that have released new pay scales for the 2022-23 school year, Manor ISD is offering the highest starting salary, $54,590. All teachers in the district will receive a 6% increase.

“Last year, Manor ISD invested millions of dollars in a new compensation plan that provided our staff with pay that was more competitive with other Central Texas school districts,” Superintendent Dr. Andre Spencer said in a statement when the budget was proposed. “This year’s budget will build on that foundation and help us protect our investment in our staff by keeping that plan competitive.”

Del Valle ISD will have the second-highest starting salary, $54,000. The district will also give all staff a $1,000 stipend upon completion of professional development for the year, effectively raising the starting salary to $55,000. The district describes itself as a “destination district for exceptional educators.”

“The salary increase proposed by Superintendent Dr. Annette Tielle and adopted by the Board of Trustees demonstrates our commitment to recruiting and retaining the very best teachers for our students,” Executive Director of Communications Christopher Weddle told KXAN in a statement. “We are also proud that this significant salary increase is part of a balanced and fiscally responsible budget which ensures our salaries are sustainable in the future.”

Dripping Springs ISD, Leander ISD and Pflugerville ISD round out the top five, each with starting salaries of $53,400 or higher. Incidentally, Pflugerville ISD had the highest salary in the region in the 2021-22 school year, $51,900.

Three districts in the KXAN viewing area use state minimum salaries, as determined by the Texas Education Agency. Lometa ISD, Mason ISD and Richland Springs ISD will all start salaries at $33,660 for the 2022-23 school year.

When it comes to increasing starting salaries, most districts in the region approved increases between 2.5% and 6%.

Gause ISD, a small Cameron County district with fewer than 200 students, approved a 19.5% jump in starting salary, from $37,660 in the 2021-22 school year to $45,000 in 2022-23.

Three other districts increased starting pay by more than 10%: Blanco ISD (13.6%), Bartlett ISD (12.4%) and Thorndale ISD (10.3%).

In the Austin metro area, Liberty Hill ISD increased starting pay the most, from $48,550 to $52,850, an 8.9% increase. The district is also offering a $4,500 step increase for all teachers. LHISD currently serves about 7,000 students, but is projecting up to 24,000 students by the end of the decade thanks to explosive growth in the city.

Besides the three districts that use state minimum salaries, three others opted not to increase starting salaries this year: Harper ISD, Johnson City ISD and Schulenburg ISD.

Harper ISD Superintendent Bonnie Stewart told KXAN the district got ahead of the curve by increasing salaries by 3% for the 2021-22 school year. Meanwhile, Johnson City ISD is not increasing starting salaries, but all returning teachers will receive a 3% of midpoint increase.

Some districts have not yet approved pay scales for the 2022-23 school year. KXAN will update this story as those decisions are made.