Leander ISD will raise pay for all district employees by 2.5% next school year.

The board of trustees approved the pay increase at a May 9 meeting following an hourlong debate over whether to raise pay by 2% or 2.5% as the district’s budget tightens.

The overview

LISD will increase compensation by almost $8.13 million across the district through a 2.5% pay raise for all staff members, according to district information. The approved compensation plan would also allow the board to approve a one-time retention payment of $1,000 for full-time employees and $500 for part-time employees at a later date.

The board’s decision comes after district administrators recommended raising employee pay by 2% at an April 25 meeting. The recommendation was lower than pay raises in previous school years as the district projects a $15 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2024-25 compared to the $6.5 million shortfall adopted by the board for FY 2023-24, which has since been reduced to $1.5 million.

At the May 9 meeting, board members favored a motion by Place 3 board member Christine Mauer to approve a 2.5% pay raise. While Place 1 board member Trish Bode made a motion to approve a 2% pay raise, it failed to receive support.

Prior to the board’s vote, district officials considered compensation plans for 2%, 3%, 3.5% and 4% raises. Officials will now need several weeks to craft a compensation plan for the newly approved 2.5% pay raise, said Superintendent Bruce Gearing, who recommended the board approve a 2% raise.

In their own words

“We have to remember we have an obligation as a board to be financially conservative, but I also think we can’t operate in fear of [funding] cuts,” Place 4 board member Anna Smith said in recommending the 2.5% raise. “I know it’s not easy, ... but at the same time we’ve got to retain the staff that we have.”

Bode expressed concerns over increasing costs amid state funding cuts and not being able to hire new employees. With a 2.5% raise, the district could not fill all of the 30 new positions it selected after receiving over 300 requests for new positions, Chief Financial Officer Pete Pape said.

School board president Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia spoke in support of the 2.5% raise as it kept the district within its budget threshold, or 3% of its revenues, and said the district already had many vacant positions.