HISD Board of Education approves 2017-2018 school year budget

Proposed budget includes almost $49 million for salary increases, $2.2 million for special education

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday approved a 2017-2018 school year budget that includes almost $49 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 was presented to trustees during their budget meeting on 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.”

The adopted budget calls for principals and assistant principals to receive a 2 percent salary increase across the board. Salaries for elementary school principals would be adjusted to ensure parity with previously adjusted middle and high school principal salaries.

For teachers, salary increases will vary based on years of experience, according to the budget. Teachers with five or fewer years or experience will receive a 2 percent increase, while teachers with six to 10 years of experience will see a 3 percent increase. Teachers with 11 to 15 years of experience will get a 3.5 percent increase, and teachers with 16 or more years of experience will get a 4 percent increase.

HISD Police Department officers, sergeants, and lieutenants will see a 2 percent salary increase.

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

This increase also will apply to district hourly employees such clerks, receptionists, police officers, associate accountants and administrative assistants. In all cases, employees will 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 — will see a 3 percent increase or $12 per hour minimum, whichever is higher. Hourly supervisors in the same category will see a $12 per hour minimum, $2 per hour increase, or 3 percent increase, whichever is higher.

Campus and central office staff in pay grades 26 or higher will see a 1 percent increase in salary, with the exception of those who earn at least $100,000. Those employees will receive two additional vacation days in lieu of a pay increase.

The budget also includes $2.2 million for special education. That funding will go toward providing additional staffing and resources for the department, as well as an Autism program at three high schools.

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

As part of the budget approval process, trustees also agreed to ask the state’s Legislative Budget Board to conduct a performance review of HISD. The board reviews a handful of districts each year to help them identify potential savings and efficiencies.

The development of the 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.