The proposed budget is now under review by AISD's budget review advisory committee, which will make its recommendations to the board of trustees. In presenting it, Forgione described the district's "Number one priority" as "finding the revenue to give a meaningful pay raise for our Austin school district employees -- a pay raise which they rightfully deserve, and which we can afford." Advisory committee members were quick to reiterate that goal, but in what can be described (at least) as a public relations gaffe of major proportions, Forgione's budget nowhere reflects its supposed first priority. Instead, the only pay increase listed on the proposal was a total of $150,000 earmarked for the five area superintendents, which works out roughly to a 20% raise for each. Forgione says he needs the increases if he's going to retain his top administrators, who would otherwise flee to smaller, wealthier districts. But his budget seems to ignore the fact that the district has also been hemorrhaging teachers for some time.
That was the response from Education Austin, the union that represents some 4,000 AISD teachers and staff. EA released a statement noting that the turnover rate for teachers is roughly one in six, and that the annual rate of teachers leaving the district has jumped from 12% to 18% in the last five years. They noted that despite Austin's high cost of living, teachers here earn less on average than teachers in most of the state's major urban districts, including roughly $4,000 a year less than Dallas teachers. The union is asking for an $1,800 annual raise across the board for teachers -- $2,400 for those with master's degrees -- as well as additional employee assistance and mentoring programs, especially for new and uncertified teachers.
AISD's budget numbers remain tentative pending state-certified attendance numbers, confirmed district tax appraisals, and the completion of committee and trustee review, which must be finalized before September.
Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.