AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District announced a 6% pay hike for all district staff and employees Thursday in the wake of public school finance reform by the state legislature.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3 into law Tuesday, reforming the state’s public education system, and specifically, the funding for that system. Funding from the $11.6 billion measure will pay for pre-kindergarten programs, career and technology education priorities, and increases in teacher salaries. The new law also decreases school property taxes.
Property-wealthy districts like AISD will send less recapture — or Robin Hood — money to the state. The tax rate in AISD would go down from $1.08 for every $100 of home value to $1. Those 8 cents add up and the district would get $1,216 more per student.
AISD pledged $48 million in employee compensation Thursday, which it said was almost double state requirements.
Librarians, staff members, teachers, cafeteria workers and other AISD employees will get a 6% hike in pay starting July 1. Meanwhile, teachers, counselors and librarians who have worked with the district for more than five years will be given a 7% hike.
“It’s really important for me that all of our staff members know I value them,” said AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz. “I appreciate their work every single day because they’re are the ones working directly with our students and families.”
Cruz said the raises wouldn’t have been possible without HB3. AISD has been struggling with a deficit and has said in the past, it cannot afford to give significant pay hikes.
The district also announced Thursday Special education and bilingual teachers will see a boost in their annual stipends as well.
- Special education teachers: a $500 increase, bringing their yearly stipend to $1,500
- Bilingual teachers: a $1,000 increase, bringing their yearly stipend to $3,500
AISD’s teachers union, Education Austin, has been advocating for 10% raises.
Traci Dunlap is a member of the union. She said Thursday’s announcement is a good starting point.
“It’s become very expensive to live in Austin,” she said. “In the 13 years that I’ve lived here, my housing expenses alone have doubled. My paycheck has not doubled.”
Dunlap explained the biggest raise she can remember getting in the past was 4%. She also said while teachers and staff’s pay raises have been stagnant, their health care costs have been skyrocketing.
“The last couple of years, I’ve been considering having to get another job because I’ve actually been taking money out of my savings account every month just to make my monthly payments on everything, just to get by,” she said.
Dunlap told KXAN the 6% or 7% raises will certainly help, but she added, “HB3 is a good start. I hope we can continue this momentum and continue doing things that show we value people who educate our kids.”
This is all part of AISD’s budget the school board will vote on next Monday. Cruz said with the new budget, the district’s $60 million deficit is expected to decrease to $5 million.