AISD Employees to Receive Historic Raises
District, union agree on pay package in wake of state school bill
By Austin Sanders,
2:05PM, Thu. Jun. 13, 2019
Austin ISD leaders announced Thursday (June 13) that all employees are set to receive a historic raise, following Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing into law earlier this week House Bill 3, which will inject about $6.5 billion into the state’s education system – which includes funds earmarked for public school pay raises.
AISD’s teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses with more than five years of experience will receive a 7% raise; classified employees such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and teachers’ assistants will receive a 6% raise. Special education and bilingual teachers will also see increases in the stipends they receive. These pay raises will be permanent, the district says; the total package is expected to amount to $48 million in 2019-20.
Education Austin, AISD’s employees union, has for months pushed the district to go far beyond its initial offer of a 1% raise, for teachers only, in next year’s budget. The union countered with a call for a 10% raise for all employees, regardless of tenure. While they didn’t hit that number, union leaders were satisfied with the compensation gains they achieved, which they believe to be the largest in AISD history.
Trasell Underwood, vice president of the union, said she felt like “a proud parent” after fighting since January for more money for employees who are struggling to afford to live in Austin. “It was like finally watching your child learn to ride a bike,” Underwood told the Chronicle at the announcement event at Govalle Elementary in East Austin. “I knew all along we could do it, and when we finally reached an agreement, it felt wonderful.”
On average, AISD teachers make $51,454 annually; the district estimates that the average salary will increase by around $2,000, while classified employees will see their 6% increase in their hourly wages. Both raises are expected to take effect on July 1, pending approval of the district’s $1.6 billion budget at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Monday (June 17).
AISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said the compensation agreement “didn’t just happen overnight,” and that it would not have been possible without the passage of HB 3. However, education advocates around Texas have already raised the alarm over the lack of a funding mechanism to sustain HB 3’s increased spending beyond 2021, which makes the “permanent” nature of the raises announced Thursday uncertain. “Right now, with our numbers, we think this is sustainable,” Cruz said.
Districts across the state are still crunching numbers to determine exactly how much new money they’ll receive; AISD is expecting $85 million in fresh funding along with a $193 million reduction to its recapture payments. Even with these gains and about $30 million in budget cuts, the district expects a $47 million budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.