AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Public Education Committee is considering two different bills on Tuesday that aim to increase retention in Texas public schools, as the state struggles with teachers leaving the profession in droves.
Two of the bills being considered are part of Speaker Dade Phelan’s education priority bills this session.
House Bill 11 — authored by Rep Harold Dutton (D-Houston) — attempts to codify many of the recommendations made by the Teacher Vacancy Task Force. The group consisted of more than 40 public school teachers and administrators, who spent more than a year looking at why teachers are quitting and retiring in order to identify possible solutions.
One of the task force’s recommendations that Dutton included in his bill is an increase in the state’s per-pupil funding – or basic allotment – from $6,160 to $6,210.
Educators like pre-kindergarten teacher Karina Rodriguez doubt that will be enough money to make a difference. She said several of her colleagues within Pflugerville ISD have been picking up second jobs in order to make ends meet.
“With these prices and inflation, it is really difficult,” she said. “If [raising wages] is not something that’s being done, then we will not get the best teachers.”
Under HB 11, the state would also adopt a new tiered structure, under this bill, to set the minimum salary for teachers. Right now, school districts can’t pay a first-year teacher less than $33,660 salary.
Dutton’s bill would differentiate the minimum salary based on a teacher’s years of experience and based on the type of certification a teacher has or lack thereof. The lowest amount an uncertified teacher could make in the state would be $35,000 if the bill passed as is.
But some in the hearing questioned if that is the right approach for addressing low teacher pay.
Paige Williams with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association said her organization wants the state to focus on increasing pay overall for all educators, before expanding the Teacher Incentive Allotment, also referred to as the TIA.
“We don’t support the continued expansion of TIA while all teachers remain underpaid. According to TEA’s own estimates…for House Bill 11, fewer than 4% of teachers will be paid under TIA,” Williams said. “Well, 100% of teachers need a pay raise.”
The Democrat’s bill was left pending in committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 100 — authored by Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) — has a lot of overlap with Dutton’s bill. However, his bill would change how the state calculates funding for districts.
Currently, that number is determined based on average daily attendance numbers. King’s legislation would change that calculation to be based on average enrollment within an individual school district, rather than daily attendance.
HB 100 was also left pending in committee.
Kelly Wiley and John Thomas contributed to this report.