AUSTIN (KXAN) — After working at Austin ISD for seven years as a bilingual Pre-K teacher, Teresa Razo is now focusing much of her time on better learning the streets of Austin.
In March she began driving for Lyft in hopes of earning some side money to help with her debt.
“I get off my teaching job at 3:30, I go home and rest, eat something, and I clock in at 5:30,” Razo said.
Last month she brought home $3,000 dollars working for Lyft. The same month, May, her Austin ISD paycheck totaled roughly $2,000 after deductions.
“There are times that I’m very tired, I don’t want to Lyft, but I think about my bills,” she said.
Her days could soon get shorter after the district reached an agreement to boost teacher pay for teachers with more than five years of experience by seven percent, and all other employees by six percent.
For years the district told Education Austin, the teachers and employees’ union, that it wanted to pay its employees more, but couldn’t because of budget constraints.
That changed this year when school finance reform passed at the capitol, giving the district an $88 million boost.
“It’s satisfying a commitment that we’ve always had,” said Nicole Conley, AISD’s Business and Operations Chief. “Finally, we’ve always talked about it, we’ve always made competitive salaries a priority, we just were unable to do it.”
The deal will cost the district an extra $48 million.
That, coupled with rising health care costs, declining enrollment, and other budget expenses, will likely AISD with a relatively small, estimated $3.1 million budget deficit.
“These are some big uncertain elements, this is our best guestimate at this time, we’ve got property taxes where we don’t know where they’ll land at the end of the year,” Conley said.
Razo sees it as money well spent and is looking forward to less time on the road.
“I’m still excited because seven percent is something, it’s a good start, but we still have to champion for more,” Razo said. “It’s baby steps.”