GALVESTON

The Galveston Independent School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved $1.3 million in wage increases for the next school year to reward teachers and reduce staff turnover.

“I saw a report recently that said a number of teachers are leaving the district, with the reason being for more money elsewhere,” Trustee Ken Jencks said before the vote. “I’m delighted we are taking strong action to correct that.”

Trustees previously have said that the district’s wages ranked near the bottom of the county and had sought to change that status.

With Wednesday’s vote, wages will rise across the board, Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.

Included in those increases, the current base salary for teachers will move from $47,500 a year to $49,000 a year for a teacher with no experience, Moulton said.

Teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses already employed by the district will see raises of at least $1,200 starting next school year, Moulton said.

Administrators will receive a 2 percent raise for next school year and all hourly wage earners will get 50-cent raises across the board, Moulton said.

“The staff making the lowest on an hourly basis will have the highest percentage increase in income,” President Matthew Hay said. “Someone making $10 per hour now will be making $10.50, which amounts to a 5 percent raise. We’d like to give more, but this will already tighten the belt.”

The news comes as the school district works to resolve budget shortfalls and to recoup about $17 million in Hurricane Ike repair costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Extensive work is needed on the roofs at Ball High School, Central Middle School, Rosenberg Elementary School, Scott Elementary School and former Alamo Elementary School, District Director of Facilities Paul Byers said in an earlier report to the board of trustees.

The work on Ball High School, which was designated the highest priority repair, is estimated to cost about $5.5 million.

While the Ball High School roof work was given a year-one prioritization, the work on the other buildings looks to be equally costly, running in the millions of dollars at each site.

For the most recently passed budget, the district anticipates bringing in a little more than $79 million in revenues on total expenditures of about $80 million, leaving a deficit of a little more than $1 million.

Moulton, at a November board of trustees meeting, discussed plans to reduce staff positions by 10 percent in the next five years.

The district employs a staff of 1,036, according to the most recently released numbers.

Despite the initial financial hit that comes with increasing wages, the move could benefit the district in the long-term, Vice President Jeff Temple said.

“I love rewarding the hourly wage workers as well,” he said. “And, with the amount it costs the district in staff turnover, it could save money in the long run.”

After discussion, the motion to increase wages passed unanimously.

Matthew deGrood: 409-683-5230; matthew.degrood@galvnews.com

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