The big news on the public education front is the recently passed and signed House Bill 3. This legislation requires some pretty specific changes to taxes, equity and salaries. This article will take a closer look at the requirements in this bill as it relates to salaries of school employees.

For the 2019–2020 school year, school districts and open enrollment charter schools will be required to increase salaries for certain staff as prescribed under Section 48.051(c), Education Code, which states “a school district must use at least 30 percent of the amount, if the amount is greater than zero, that equals the product of the average daily attendance of the district multiplied by the amount of the difference between the district’s funding under this chapter per student in average daily attendance for the current school year and the preceding school year to provide compensation increases to full-time employees other than administrators.”

That’s a complicated way of stating that 30 percent of the gain that a school district receives must be allocated to salaries of school employees. The statute further states that 75% of that 30% must be allocated for raises for teachers, librarians and counselors. SISD’s gain is approximately $1.9 million. 

The original budget projections were close to that amount. We believe that the spirit of the legislation was to provide teachers an increase in salary. The recommendation that will be presented this next Monday will be to increase salaries approximately 7% for professional staff and 5% for hourly employees. 

For teachers, counselors and librarians this amount totals $3,200 for teachers, counselors and librarians with less than 6 years of experience and those with 6 years or more will receive $3,500. The budgetary impact required around $400,000 be allocated to teaching staff, but we have opted to increase that amount to approximately $700,000.

Additional staffing has also been allocated for two additional counseling related positions. A student counselor with no administrative duties targeting grades 6th through 9th grade, and an additional counselor targeting special education behavioral issues. We also added some additional special education support staff necessitated by an increase in our special education numbers. Additional funding has been provided by this enrollment increase that will offset those expenditures.

We are leaving some discretionary funding in the budget to offset any salary increases in the 2020-21 school year. Next month’s article will focus on the tax rate reductions that were also a part of the HB 3 requirements. This legislation supported our teaching staff and reduced property tax rates. This solution was only guaranteed for the current biennium.

Matt Underwood is the superintendent of the Stephenville Independent School District.