HISD Board of Education to consider proposed 2017-2018 budget during Thursday meeting

Proposed budget includes $48.6 million for salary increases, $2.2 million for special education

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday will consider a proposed 2017-2018 school year budget that includes $48.6 million in salary increases and $2.2 million for special education.

The salary increases are designed to ensure the district is providing all employees with a competitive and livable wage, while the special education funding is designed to provide that department with essential additional resources.

Both are part of the district’s overall $2.1 billion proposed budget, which is set to be presented to trustees during their budget meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center. State law requires the budget be approved by June 30.

“HISD has dedicated and passionate employees. They deserve to have the resources they need to do their jobs well, and they deserve to be compensated for their hard work,” HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza said. “We always wish we could provide more, but I hope this is a step in the right direction.”

According to the proposal, principals and assistant principals would receive a 2 percent salary increase across the aboard, while increases for teachers would vary based on years of experience.

Teachers with five or fewer years or experience would receive a 2 percent increase, while teachers with six to 10 years of experience would see a 3 percent increase. Teachers with 11 to 15 years of experience would get a 3.5 percent increase, and teachers with 16 or more years of experience would get a 4 percent increase.

HISD Police Department officers, sergeants, and lieutenants would see a 2 percent salary increase.  Campus office staff in pay grade 26 or above — program and instructional specialists, social workers, and grad coaches — would get a 1 percent increase.

Campus office staff in non-supervisory positions that are pay grade 25 or below — aides, administrative assistants, clerks, student information representatives, and tutors — would receive either a 2 percent increase or $12 per hour minimum, whichever is higher. Hourly supervisors in that same category would receive a $12 per hour minimum, $2 per hour increase, or 2 percent increase, whichever is higher.

This increase also would apply to district hourly employees such clerks, receptionists, police officers, associate accountants and administrative assistants. In all cases, employees would receive the option that provide the largest monetary increase.

Non-supervisory Business Operations employees who have a pay grade of 25 or lower — custodians, plant operators, maintenance workers, bus drivers and nutrition services attendants — would see a 3 percent increase or $12 per hour minimum, whichever is higher. Hourly supervisors in the same category would see a $12 per hour minimum, $2 per hour increase, or 3 percent increase, whichever is higher.

At central office, most employees would see a 1 percent increase in salary, with the exception of those that earn at least $100,000. Those employees would receive two additional vacation days in lieu of a pay increase.

District staff also are proposing $2.2 million for special education. That funding would go toward providing additional staffing and resources for the department, as well as an Autism program at three high schools.

Also part of the proposed budget is $15 million for the Achieve 180 initiative, which aims to increase student support and achievement at 32 of the most underserved and underperforming schools in HISD.

The development of the proposed budget comes as HISD faces looming budget shortfalls in the coming years as a result of inadequate state funding.

HISD has been designated by the state as a property-wealthy school district under the state’s school finance system, despite the fact that almost 80 percent of students are considered low-income. The designation is a result of rising property values across the city. HISD property values have doubled since 2006.

Recapture requires districts that exceed a certain per-student property wealth level to send local tax dollars back to the state.

The 2017-2018 budget has a recapture payment of $268 million budgeted. With the increases proposed in the 2017-2018 budget, the district expects to use approximately $106 million of the district’s fund balance. This will result in the district starting the 2018-2019 budget planning process with a $69 million deficit.

The payments mark the first time HISD is sending more money to state than it receives in aid.