Full-time teachers at Galveston and Texas City public schools are getting raises for the 2019-2020 school year, though details of both districts’ budgets for the upcoming year remain hazy.
Galveston Independent School District trustees approved raises of $2,000 for all full-time teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses. Starting salary for a full-time teacher, counselor, nurse or librarian is now $53,000, up from $51,000.
Texas City trustees this week approved a $2.1 million salary increase with raises ranging from 3.2 percent to 7.5 percent for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses and an increase of 3 percent of midpoint to all other staff.
The existing starting salary for first-time teachers and librarians at Texas City Independent School District is $53,100. Salaries for counselors and nurses are calculated by a separate formula.
Trustees increased the starting salary for first-time teachers to $55,000 a year, district officials said Friday.
Galveston trustees announced the raises and new starting salary at their regular board meeting June 19, saying they were responding to a state mandate now that House Bill 3, the new school finance plan, has been signed into law, and to their own wishes to do the right thing for the district’s employees.
But trustees expressed frustration that they didn’t have enough information from the state to do more.
“We plan to roll out additional proposals for other staff when we have more information,” said Tony Brown, board president.
House Bill 3, the school finance overhaul Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last month, requires school districts to use part of the increase they will receive from the state in per-student funding to pay for the salary increases.
The law promises $6.5 billion in new funding to improve schools and pay teachers across the state, while also providing $5.1 billion to lower school district taxes.
But all school districts, at this point, are fundamentally guessing how much money they will receive from the state and what their actual tax decrease will be, according to both Texas City and Galveston district representatives.
“Our biggest concern is that the mandatory salary increase was calculated on a revenue amount that could not be known at the time the compensation plan was adopted,” said Margaret Lee, assistant superintendent for business and operations at Texas City schools.
“While Texas City Independent School District’s adopted compensation plan is conservative when compared to many fast-growth districts, we feel like the pay increase that trustees approved June 25 will not only meet the minimum salary increase mandated by the state Legislature, but will also provide enhancement to the minimum requirement for district employees.”
Galveston trustees expressed frustration at having to make decisions with incomplete information from Austin.
“Everyone has seen in the news that we’ll be getting an increase in funding from the state, but what you don’t know is that we don’t know how much,” Trustee Matthew Hay said at the June 19 meeting.
The board will continue to look at raises for all staff, and might offer additional financial benefits to teachers once it has a better idea of revenues, Hay said, promising that this would be the minimum raise teachers would receive.
Trustee Shae Jobe said the public should be aware of the difficulty the school district faces making budget decisions, including how much to compensate teachers and other school personnel.
“We’re looking for a way to comply with new laws coming from Austin while the state is still writing rules on how the law is being interpreted,” Jobe said.
“We’re trying to ascertain what’s responsible from a fiscal perspective and what’s right for our teachers from a moral perspective.”
Doing that without a clear idea of how much money will be coming in for the upcoming year is problematic, Brown said.
“The numbers are hazy,” Brown said. “The number of estimates as to what the state will provide is a function of the number of people you ask at this point.”
Nonetheless, the board had to move forward with at least a preliminary increase in compensation to achieve its goals, Brown said.
“Not only do we want to recruit the best, we want to retain the best.”