Kilgore ISD school board trustees voted unanimously Monday to approve a compensation and benefits plan for the 2019-2020 school year which includes an additional $1.9 million investment, leading to substantial pay increases for full-time teachers and other district employees.
The pay increases are a direct result of additional state funding for Texas schools mandated by House Bill 3, a measure signed into law by Gov. Abbott in June.
“Kilgore ISD is anticipating additional state funding for our 2019-2020 school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Andy Baker.
“This additional funding is coming down from House Bill 3 which was signed into law earlier this summer. Please understand that House Bill 3 has, especially in comparison to many, many, many years past, has drastically overhauled public school revenue formulas and our funding mechanisms.”
According to information presented at the meeting and a KISD press release distributed Monday, the new compensation and benefits plan will set the base annual salary for beginning full-time teachers at $40,400.
Established teachers will see a minimum annual salary increase of between $4,000 and $5,000. This is up to a 12 percent increase over last school year’s compensation plan.
Full-time teachers with 0-4 years of experience will see a $4,000 salary increase in addition to the normal, incremental “step” salary increase which accrues with additional years of experience.
Full-time teachers with 5-20 years of experience will see a $5,000 salary increase plus the annual step increase and those with 21-27 years of experience will get a $4,500 salary increase.
Other district employees will see pay boosts as well.
Full-time employees including bus drivers, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, custodial staff and administrative staff will get a minimum 5 percent increase to their annual salary.
In addition to pay increases, district employees will also get increased benefits.
The KISD-provided health care insurance contribution will rise by $132 to help employees offset statewide health insurance premium increases scheduled to occur in the upcoming school year.
Baker said that KISD, and districts statewide, are still working hard to fully understand the implications of H.B. 3 and how they will deal with the law in the future.
“Meeting the requirements of House Bill 3 as they pertain to school funding, please remember, are still being understood by us, by the state, by Region 7. There’s not a whole lot of clarification for many of the new formulas, many of the new rules. Please remember that House Bill 3, in its entirety, honestly may take us a year or more to really understand how it bottom-line affects our school districts.”
Baker said that he, along with Chief Financial Officer Revard Pfeffer, underwent extensive work and planning to ensure the salary increases could be maintained into the future.
“(Pfeffer) and I right now are extremely confident in this, that we can sustain this and that right now, with our comparable school districts in our immediate area, we’re competing for our classroom teachers and we’re competing for our classroom paraprofessionals and our bus drivers and our maintenance workers, etc. We feel very confident that our Kilgore ISD salary compensation plan that’s being proposed tonight is going to be extremely competitive, if not lead some of our area school districts and what they are currently proposing they do for next year.”
H.B. 3, in addition to mandating teacher pay raises, also calls for school districts to lower tax rates assessed on residents living within their tax bases. Because Texas school districts derive a large portion of their revenue from property taxes, the funding injection from the state will allow them to lower the tax-based portion of their revenues.
Pfeffer said KISD would see an overall revenue boost while lowering the amount of tax it collects.
“House Bill 3 is the driver of all this. It’s taking our M&O (maintenance and operations) tax rate from $1.04 to $0.97,” Pfeffer said, adding the new funding calculations meant a nearly $4 million increase in KISD’s total revenue, between increased state funding and local funding from taxes.
“We’re sitting in a very good spot,” Pfeffer said in regards to the district’s history of conservative taxation policies and fiscal decision-making in combination with the injection of funding from H.B. 3.
Trustee Trey Hattaway expressed a positive opinion of the funding measure and said he hoped it was a sign of more good things to come.
“You always take the good with the bad in legislative sessions. I think that it is admirable the actions that they took to take care of our teachers and our staff in our schools who have been grossly underpaid for many years for the things that they do for our kids and to keep our schools clean and updated and also to teach our kids. It’s admirable. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will go forward. I’m hoping that it does. I hope that the state stays committed to holding this line and works to find other ways to make it even better,” Hattaway said before moving to accept the new compensation and benefits plan.
It passed unanimously.
At this time, the new KISD tax rate is only a proposal. Trustees scheduled a public hearing, as required by law, to discuss the proposed 2019-2020 budget and tax rate for the date of their next regular meeting, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. in the KISD Administration Building at 301 N. Kilgore St.
“That is when we can really dive into, hey, here’s what House Bill 3 (does), here’s how it compressed those taxes, here’s what it means for all of our homeowners and how that affects the revenues that we’re going to bring in to KISD,” Baker said.