Posted Date: 05/14/2021
After years of cuts and doing more with less, Pampa ISD is poised to honor their loyal teachers and staff with a historic 4.5%-6% raise in compensation for the 2019-2020 school year!
This is the 4th in a series of articles discussing the public education bills passed from the 86th Legislative Session. Earlier articles discussed school safety and security and the focus on Pre-K and early literacy. This week’s article will focus on teacher compensation and the “must do’s” and “may do’s” from HB3 with regard to pay raises and overall increasing compensation for public school staff.
You may recall on the first day of the legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made a bold statement and said he was going to get the teachers a $5000 raise. This announcement excited teachers—rightfully so. The legislators were able to put $2billion into teacher compensation but were unfortunately unable to reach the highly anticipated $5000 raise for every teacher in Texas. Lawmakers earmarked the $2billion statewide for what they called “Dynamic Teacher Compensation”. The goal of the legislation was to invest in programs that promote teacher quality and to energize teacher pay. So, what did the teachers end up with from HB3?
First, the compensation stipulations are contingent on the amount of “increased funding” a district receives as a result of the basic allotment. For Pampa ISD, we have run the numbers and have an estimate of around $2.4million that we are supposed to receive in additional funding from the state. Another factor that impacts the “increased funding” amount is tax compression. I will talk about tax compression in another article, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will receive about $1million LESS in local taxpayer money than in previous years because the new tax rate will likely be around .99 or 1.00 cents instead of $1.06. This is great news for Pampa property taxpayers. So, as we plan, we must remember that $1million of the estimated $2.4million will just be to make up for what we will not receive from local taxpayers. It won’t actually be an “increase” in funding. It is simply switching the source of the funding. Having said that, there is still a very large disclaimer written in all-caps and in red font across the top of the funding template warning school officials that it is not a final template and to use it with caution and ONLY for planning purposes. I have to confess, this is not comforting as we move forward building the budget for the 2019-20 school year. However, our conservative approach over the last three years has us poised to work under a balanced budget regardless of the impact of HB3 for the 2019-2020 school year. For that, I am comforted.
Second, HB3 requires that every school district use 30% of the “increased funding” amount on compensation for staff. For Pampa ISD, this is roughly around $900,000 that will be used to increase the compensation of certain staff members. That is awesome and we are so excited to get to do this for our staff!! But, this entire process is not that simple. 75% of the 30% MUST be spent on certain staff members and ONLY on these certain staff members. These groups include full-time classroom teachers, nurses, librarians, and counselors.
The increased compensation includes a change in the state’s minimum salary scale. Pampa ISD already pays well above the state minimum for 0-9 years of experience. We did not however pay over the NEW minimal scale for teachers in the 10-20 years of experience range. Our Board approved a local salary scale at the last Board meeting (June 25) to approve this NEW scale. Additionally, our Board approved a slight step raise for our teachers in the 21-40 years of experience range. This is something they did not have to do, but the administration recommended this and the board approved unanimously. Staff in this group could see a range of 4.5% to 6% increase in compensation. However, AFTER the June 25th Board meeting, the Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, released much-awaited guidance on the implementation of the 30% rule. His guidance changed our plans significantly and sent us back to the drawing board. So, our Board will revisit the salary scale and compensation plan in July and align it with the new guidance from TEA. Regardless, I still feel confident that our staff will see on average a 4.5% increase in compensation when all is said and done.
This all sounds wonderful, but what about all of the other staff who work hard every day to serve our students and families? That is a great question! This is the “may do” part of the bill. 25% of the 30% “may be” used to increase compensation to the same group OR the district could use that money to provide other staff members an increase in pay. That is exactly what Pampa ISD Administration proposed and the Board approved. Bus drivers, custodians, food service staff, clerks, secretaries, para-professionals, etc. will also see an increase in compensation for the 2019-2020 school year. It is important to note that NONE of the HB3 additional funding can be spent on increasing administrator compensation. That is ok. However, Pampa ISD values ALL of its staff, and we anticipated the need to provide some local budget for this purpose. So, although the increase in compensation will not be as large of a percentage as other groups, the administration will likely see an increase in compensation. The School Board reviewed a draft proposal for the HB3 compensation implications and will review it in more detail at the July 29th meeting before taking action for full approval. Now that we have received more guidance, we should walk away from the meeting with a more solid plan.
The final take-a-way from this is that our staff will receive more compensation in the 2019-2020 school year. An important factor to remember; however, is that these amounts will change every year because they are based on the basic allotment and the district’s average daily attendance. The funding amount that we base the 30% on next year could be even more----but it could be less. This is an important fact that we as a district and staff must not forget. The compensation plans for the 2020-2021 school year will likely be different than they are for this upcoming year. And, if things go as the lawmakers predict, we could be changing this minimum salary scale every year based on the basic allotments provided to public schools from the state.
Another take-a-way is that although Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was unable to deliver the $5000 raise he talked about early in the session, the lawmakers did deliver on their promise to change how we fund schools and to provide more money for teachers and staff. This bill is not perfect, but it does go a long way in transforming how we think about funding our public schools and how we treat the staff who serve in them every day. For this, I am thankful and hopeful that the trend will continue.
So, until we have more definitive numbers and as we continue to receive guidance from the Texas Education Agency on all of this, we must continue to forge ahead—planning, preparing, and yes---praying for good things to prevail. I am excited about the new school year and believe that Pampa ISD and our staff will continue to be blessed as we have in the past with a supportive community. Thank you, Pampa!
If you have questions or just want to know more, you can go to https://tea.texas.gov/HB3/ The next article will be on tax compression! This is wonderful news for those in our community who pay property taxes!
Tanya Larkin, Superintendent
Published on 07/10/2019