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Education

AISD Board To Discuss Two Year Teacher Pay Raise

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Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News
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The Austin ISD board will hold a work session tonight.

Teacher salaries have not budged for the last two years in Austin ISD. And it was that way for a lot of districts across the state in the wake of last year’s $5 billion in cuts to public education.

But now some school districts, including several around Austin, are thinking about raising salaries next school year. And AISD may not want to be left behind.

According to one analysis that will be presented to board members tonight, Austin ISD ranks 15th in teacher pay, compared to other Texas school districts. That’s only if you include employees' social security contributions paid by the district. Otherwise, AISD is 18th.

District staff say Austin teacher salaries are 3.6 percent lower than other Central Texas districts and 11.3 percent lower than Austin’s urban counterparts in Texas.

A first year teacher with a Bachelor's Degree in Austin ISD earns $42,025, according to the district's salary schedule. The same teacher with five years' experience earns $42,625.

“Retaining and attracting high quality staff is becoming more challenging as the gap between AISD salaries and those of surrounding districts continues to widen,” district staff wrote in the agenda document accompanying tonight’s presentation.

But the big question remains: How do you pay for a salary increase?

Austin ISD can afford to finance a pay raise for the next two years under two conditions, according to this PowerPoint presentation that chief financial officer Nicole Conley-Abram will show to board members tonight.

The district would use up to $25 million in reserve funds, an emergency savings account that helps AISD retain its high bond ratings, but AISD would have to adopt a plan to balance the budget in future years and set a target date for either a tax rate election or budget cuts.

And this is all contingent upon state lawmakers not cutting spending in the next legislative session in 2013.

The AISD board will hear several options for pay raises tonight. They range from three to four percent for teachers, from two to three percent for classified employees like cafeteria workers and bus drivers, and from one to three percent for administrators.

Another option would provide so-called retention stipends: one time payouts to that could occur over multiple years.

The board will also talk about options for increasing property tax rates. They’ll look at the impact of everything from no increase to the maximum allowable under state law: nine-cents per $100 of property value. The nine-cent increase would cost the average homeowner an extra $214 a year, but it’s unlikely to be proposed by the board because any tax rate increase would require voter approval. 

Tonight's meeting is a work session, which gives board members a chance to talk about policy with staff and among themselves, but no decisions will be made. 

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