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Pay Raises Could Stem Teachers' Affordability Issues, But Does AISD Have the Money?

The AISD Board is holding a hearing on the budget and its arrangement with teacher unions.
Photo by KUT News
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The AISD Board is holding a hearing on the budget and its arrangement with teacher unions.

Most of the Austin School Board members want a larger salary increase for teachers than the district recommended. At a meeting Monday night they urged district officials to consider large pay bumps before bringing the budget back to the board for a vote, but that could mean deficits in future budgets.

The average teacher in Austin ISD makes $48,000 a year. According to recent calculations from a personal finance website, Go Banking Rates, the average Austin resident needs to make at least $53,000 to live comfortably here.

The local teacher’s union points to rising home values, which means higher school tax collections, as a reason why AISD should share that wealth with teachers.

But, even a 3 percent increase in teacher salaries means an additional $15 million to the district’s budget. The district's Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley says AISD is already projecting budget deficits in the near future – projections made worse with a larger raise for teachers. Plus, Conley says, the housing values won’t increase forever, and the district needs to make sure it has some money in its reserves for the future. 

“If you increase your expenses, you’ll have shortfalls in the out years because your revenue won’t sustain the add on in expenses," she said. 

And then there’s the state’s school finance system, which requires Austin ISD to send hundreds of millions of dollars back to the state because of the district's relatively high property values.

The board asked the district to consider what a higher pay increase would mean for next year’s budget. The board must adopt a budget by the end of June.

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