Teachers and Austin ISD staff urged the school district’s board of trustees to implement a 5 percent pay raise during the board's May 18 meeting.
Representatives from local teachers union Education Austin also spoke up at recent board meetings to ask the board to consider raises. Carol Denson, a bilingual third-grade teacher at Joslin Elementary School, said she hopes the district will help teachers be more responsible financially.
“I am not making enough money to live here," she told trustees.
Denson’s comments were echoed by other employees who said salaries do not keep up with Austin’s rising housing costs and other affordability hurdles.
Chavel Lopez addressed the board while holding a sign that read: “Living Wage for School Workers.”
“This is a sign of the times,” Lopez said, noting some custodians barely make more than $11 per hour, which is not a living wage.
The district's preliminary 2015-16 budget includes a 1.5 percent salary increase for regular full-time and part-time employees, with AISD providing an additional 1.5 percent increase for teachers, librarians and counselors who have served AISD for five years or longer.
AISD staff member Juan Barrientos said classified employees like himself are at a disadvantage. Barrientos said he makes about $20,000 annually, and a 1.5 percent increase would mean a pay bump of about $300.
The district’s current compensation plans could be adjusted if additional revenue becomes available as a result of the legislative session, according to AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley.
Attendees at the May 18 meeting said they are thankful for the work done by AISD board members and staff during this legislative session to try to increase funding for public schools.
Trustee Paul Saldaña said he would like to see a more aggressive strategic plan on how AISD will address gaps in its budget.
“All of us [trustees] have made suggestions about revenue-generating opportunities, but everything is just coming forward piece-meal," Saldaña said. "I know that we’re going to be faced with making very tough decisions about the budget. … We heard a lot of testimony tonight about giving our employees a 5 percent raise. I’m there.”
The board did not vote on 5 percent raises during its May 18 meeting. The district is holding community engagement meetings about its budget throughout May.