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Austin Community College board approves 4.5% raise, increasing hourly minimum wage to $23

The facade of Austin Community College's Highland campus.
Renee Dominguez
KUT News
The Austin Community College's Board of Trustees on Monday approved a 4.5% raise for employees. Groups representing faculty and staff had been pushing for 8.5%.

The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees on Monday approved a 4.5% across-the-board raise for employees.

The new compensation package also increases the hourly minimum wage from $22 to $23, which also works out to a 4.5% raise. ACC has about 6,100 full-time and part-time employees.

Executive Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Neil Vickers told trustees ACC is giving higher raises than other community colleges throughout Texas. The college’s minimum wage is also higher than what local employers, such as the City of Austin and Austin ISD, offer.

“The vast majority of the community colleges are doing between 3 and 4%. None of them are doing more than 4%,” he said. “So, I think we can safely say that at 4.5% we’re giving the largest increase of really any community college.”

But the 4.5% increase falls short of the 8.5% raise that groups representing faculty and staff had been pushing for to deal with the high cost of living in the Austin area. While Vickers said the raise does keep up with inflation, members of ACC’s Full-Time Faculty Senate disagreed. Faculty Senate President Juan Molina said inflation has eroded the value of their wages over the last seven years.

“Salaries should not only help employees survive, but thrive," he said. "If they thrive, our students succeed."

David DeRouen, president of the Association of Professional-Technical Employees, echoed calls for higher pay, especially because enrollment is up significantly.

“That stuff doesn’t happen by magic," he said, "that happens by us busting our rear ends on campus."

DeRouen added that staff are taking on additional responsibilities and “going way above and beyond” without new resources. ACC is also preparing for an influx of students in the fall because of its new free tuition pilot program for local high school graduates. New student registration is up 27%.

ACC employee Anthony Mignini, who spoke with KUT back in 2022 about the need for higher pay, told trustees that faculty and staff can better support students if their own basic needs are met. He said 4.5% doesn’t cut it when things like food and car costs are higher.

“I assure you I’m thinking about how much more value employees will be able to bring to students’ education if they do not feel the need to work multiple jobs,” he said.

Trustee Stephanie Gharakhanian also questioned whether a 4.5% raise was high enough. She said that while ACC may be outpacing its peers in Texas, she’d like to see what community colleges are offering in cities with a similar cost of living to Austin.

“We know that we’re not just competing against other metro community colleges in Texas; we’re competing against other higher ed institutions in Texas,” she said. “We know that we need to be a little bit more flexible to continue to attract and retain the talent that we need for our students.”

ACC Chancellor Russell Lowery-Hart agreed this would be helpful data for future compensation packages.

“I think that sounds like a really helpful request to not just compare ourselves to the State of Texas where we’re No. 1 in almost every pay category, but to other communities that have a more similar cost of living,” he said.

Gharakhanian proposed increasing the raise to 5.5% but the motion failed. An attempt from Trustee Nan McRaven to increase the raise to 5% also failed.

While the board did not end up approving higher raises, they did say they wanted to look at new ways to calculate what compensation should be going forward.

“I do think we should push really hard in the next year to get a better grip on all of our budget and figure out how we do come up with funding to support more for our faculty and staff,” Trustee Dana Walker said.

The ACC chapter of the American Federation of Teachers had advocated for an 8.5% raise. President David Albert said while the 4.5% increase is disappointing, it is encouraging that trustees are open to reevaluating what compensation should look like.

“I hope that [Monday’s] discussion will result in a full scale reevaluation of compensation so that next time we are able to get a better result for our employees,” he said.

During Monday's meeting, the ACC board also approved millions to help current students finish their programs. Trustees signed off on spending $12.8 million from the college’s reserves for Affordability Scholarships. ACC estimates more than 20,000 students who were enrolled during the spring semester could be eligible for the financial support.

Correction: While the ACC website states the college has 5,000 employees, a spokesperson confirmed the current number is actually around 6,100 employees.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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