All Houston ISD employees would receive pay increases ranging from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent in 2012-2013 under a budget proposal presented to the Board of Education for consideration today.
HISD’s non-teaching staff last received a pay raise in 2009-2010, and some, but not all, teachers received a raise in 2010-2011. No employees received raises this school year. Superintendent Terry Grier asked the board to consider the pay increases in an effort to remain competitive with surrounding Houston-area school districts that have already proposed doing so.
The teacher pay issue is especially critical as HISD seeks to compete with other school districts who are attempting to fill teaching vacancies caused by resignations and retirements. Each year, HISD loses about 1,000 teachers through attrition. Under the proposal, teachers with 10 years or less of experience would receive a 2.25 percent pay raise, which would increase beginning teacher pay in HISD from $44,987 to $46,000. Teachers with more than 10 years of experience would receive a 1.75 percent pay raise.
Other employee groups would receive the following salary increases under the compensation proposal:
• School bus operators, hourly food services employees, and salaried departmental employees on the lower end of the pay scale: 2.25 percent
• Substitute teachers, hourly employees, principals, assistant principals, and deans: 2 percent
• Professional employees and upper-level administrators: 1.75 percent
HISD began the budgeting process facing a $43.6 million shortfall caused primarily by the Texas Legislature’s decision last year to reduce public education funding by $5.3 billion. HISD is among many Texas school districts that have filed a lawsuit seeking to force the state to fund schools at the constitutionally-mandated level.
The budget proposal includes maintaining HISD’s current tax rate, which is the lowest among all Harris County school districts.
The district would pay for the $20 million compensation proposal in part with $8.9 million from the district’s savings account, which currently stands at about $257 million. About $17 million of the shortfall would be covered by reducing the amount of general fund money that is normally transferred to HISD’s debt service fund to help repay loans. This reduction is a one-time option that will not be available in future years.
HISD has also identified several areas of potential savings for the upcoming school year. These include:
• $3.5 million in reduced employee healthcare costs through increased efficiencies that should not impact quality of service.
• $1.7 million less in special funding for six unique schools.
• $2.5 million in non-campus departmental cuts, primarily through eliminating positions and layoffs. Last year, HISD eliminated 221 non-campus positions.
Changes in Distribution of Funds for Low-Income Students
HISD was notified this month that the federal government will now require districts to send federal money intended to supplement the cost of educating children from low-income families to the neighborhood schools in those children’s attendance zones. In past years, HISD has allocated that money, called Title I funds, to the schools that qualifying children actually attend, even if those schools are not in those children’s neighborhoods.
As a result of this change, some HISD schools will receive less Title I money than they would have in the past, while other schools will receive more money. In general, schools that accept large numbers of transfer students from low-income families will lose funding, while schools in low-income neighborhoods that have lost students to other schools will receive additional funds. The most money any single school would lose is about $180,000.
The Board of Education is expected to adopt the 2012-2013 budget at a public meeting in June.