AISD Director of Personnel Services Paul Shooter told the board that all teachers (and librarians) will be paid at least $380 above the state minimum salary schedule, and many will be paid well above the minimum. To help reward the district's most experienced teachers, who are already at the top of the salary schedule and would otherwise not realize much benefit from the 5% average hike, the district will move them up an extra step on the pay ladder. The pay raises do include the new, extra duty day for all teachers, which was recently mandated by the Texas Legislature, Shooter said. Knippa said the salary increase will help keep AISD competitive with other school districts in the area. Teacher association representatives Ruben Valdez and Louis Malfaro agreed that the hike was adequate.
Board president Kathy Rider moved the adoption of the budget. Trustee Rudy Montoya then moved that the board restore $250,000 in supplemental funds to 18 of 36 low-income elementary schools that otherwise would have had to curtail some of their programs in 1997-98. "The administration accepts and supports this amendment to the budget," interjected AISD Superintendent Jim Fox. The board accepted Montoya's amendment without rancor.
A brief aside: AISD is launching in earnest an early literacy effort throughout the district, which will be spearheaded by a nationally recognized program called Reading Recovery. This program requires intensive (and expensive) teacher training; AISD administrators felt that only half of the 36 low-income campuses that need Reading Recovery could be trained in the method for this year; the others will get the training for next year. In recent days, however, members of Austin Interfaith had pleaded for more aid to the 18 schools that will have to wait for Reading Recovery.
Originally, supplemental funds to all 36 schools were reduced by about $1 million -- but then reallocated back to those schools in the form of Reading Recovery (and other academic initiatives). After taking into account the district's reallocation of the $1 million, Interfaith members estimated the actual loss to the 18 Reading Recovery-less schools to still be about $443,000. The $250,000 figure, derived at the eleventh hour through talks with Interfaith, was seen by everyone as an acceptable compromise. "It will help protect schools that would otherwise have had to make cuts in their programs," said Interfaith co-chair Regina Rogoff.
Board members were unanimous in supporting the final adopted budget; a veritable lovefest from the dais ensued. "The budget shows there's a real commitment [to education] by the administration, even though it's going to cost some money," said Rips. He also said he was satisfied that the administration had kept its new, $7.8 million classroom technology initiative in balance with other academic initiatives. Since he is one of the board members who is probably the least dazzled by technology, this was an area of particular concern to him.
Trustee Loretta Edelen joined the rest of the board in support of the budget, especially because of the district's efforts in early literacy and other academic programs for low-income schools. "This is the first year that I've seen a substantial restoration of money to the neediest schools," she said. But she would like to see a smaller tax increase for next year, she added. With the higher salary increase and the restoration of funds to low-income schools, the budget for the 1997-98 school year will top out at a whopping $458.1 million. District officials believe that a nine-cent increase in the tax rate will be needed to fund this budget, bringing the rate to $1.40 per $100 property valuation. The tax rate won't be set until September, however, after tax rolls are certified.
In other board business: Trustees voted unanimously to sign a letter of intent with IBM to be the systems integrator for the district's new technology infrastructure. The technical merits of IBM, as well as its costs, gave it the edge over GTE, the other firm competing for the job, said instructional technology coordinator Stephanie Hamilton. For their services, including wiring all of AISD for data, video, and voice, IBM will be paid a gracious plenty -- $42.8 million in bond funds. Trustee Jerry Carlson, former site manager for IBM Austin, abstained from the vote. Trustee Liz Hartman, whose spouse works for IBM, was not at the meeting because of illness.
Amy Smith, Fri., May 17, 2013
Fri., May 17, 2013
Mike Kanin, Fri., May 17, 2013
Fri., May 17, 2013
Fri., May 17, 2013
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