Lake Travis ISD acknowledges compensation concerns of district special education aides

Lake Travis ISD board of trustees discuss the concerns of the district's special education aides during a July 17 meeting.

Lake Travis ISD board of trustees discuss the concerns of the district's special education aides during a July 17 meeting.

The Lake Travis ISD board of trustees addressed salary concerns from special education aides during a July 17 meeting.

Lake Travis ISD approved a 5.3% compensation increase allocating $3,000 to veteran teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses per the requirements of House Bill 3 during a June 19 regular meeting.

While the salary increases outlined in HB 3 only pertain to those four positions, the board voted to approve a 4% salary increase off the midpoint LTISD pay grade for special education aides and all other staff members.

Midpoints vary based on each position within the district. Every position is structured with a minimum, midpoint and maximum salary or hourly rate, and the 4% raise is factored based on each position’s midpoint, according to Marco Alvarado, LTISD's director of communications, media and community relations.

During the June 19 meeting, multiple special education aides expressed their grievances to the board.

Former special education aide Cheryl Spelman worked for the district for seven years before eventually deciding to leave. She said the pay was not enough for the long hours and stressful situations the job required.

“I appreciate the folks that came to speak,” Superintendent Brad Lancaster said. He called the comments heartfelt and said the board is taking them very seriously.

The board July 17 presented an outline of LTISD special education aide salaries compared to other districts in response to the concerns.

The districts included Round Rock, Eanes, Leander, Dripping Springs, Austin, Pflugerville, Hays, Hutto, Manor, Marble Falls and Bastrop ISDs.

The district classifies special education aides by two categories: level one and level two.

“It's important to know that three years ago, we only had one level of special ed aides, and per the request of some employees, we split that out into two levels,” Lancaster said.

Level two aides often have increased involvement in the physical care of students.

“Those aides wanted the pay to reflect that, so we did that,” said Lancaster.

Special education aides' salaries at LTISD are within the market when compared to other districts, according to Evalene Murphy, the assistant superintendent for human resources.

LTISD's minimum salary for level one aides is No. 5 out of the 12 districts used for comparison, with Eanes ISD being at the top. The LTISD level one aide maximum salary ranks at No. 4.

“We’re paying our [level one] aides 111% compared to the state,” Murphy said.

LTISD level two aides are paid the highest salary among all 12 districts.

If the board of trustees approved the $35.1% salary increase requested by the level one aides, it would cost the district nearly $253,277.48, according to district information.

The average salary increase requested by level two aides was 30.6%, totaling $386,178.38. This increase would put LTISD way above the market average, according to Murphy.

The total cost of the salary adjustments requested by the aides would equal $2.4 million.

“Everyone agrees we don’t pay out teachers and aides what they’re worth, but we also know we have an obligation to have a balanced budget,” Lancaster said.
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