Facing budget shortfalls, the Eanes ISD board of trustees could take a fiscally conservative approach in recommending salary adjustments. The board of trustees discussed potential adjustments during a May 26 board meeting.
Though a final decision was not reached, trustees are leaning toward freezing salaries or providing a 1% increase for the 2020-21 school year.
The board approved a 4.5% raise across the board for the 2019-20 school year, which Superintendent Tom Leonard said was stretch on the budget. Neighboring districts including Lake Travis ISD approved higher raises; however, trustees noted House Bill 3 provided LTISD was significantly more assistance.
“I would rather do 0% than have to reduce staff next year,” trustee James Spradley said. “As much as I would like to give a raise, I dislike reductions even more.”
Spradley, along with a majority of trustees, felt that increasing salaries under the current budget constraints would create staff reductions. Potential reductions in staff would consequently have an effect on class sizes.
Leonard confirmed that as of the May 26 meeting, EISD has not laid off any staff members due to the coronavirus. Furthermore, staff reductions will not always result in layoffs as the district experiences annual attrition.
Trustees, including board President Jennifer Champagne, said they are cautious heading into the 2020-21 school year. If the district is permitted to reopen schools, there could be significant costs associated with sanitizing or other guidelines, Champagne said.
In contrast, trustee Christie Bybee recommended a 2% salary increase pushing EISD to remain competitive with neighboring districts.
"One percent doesn’t sit right with me,” Bybee said, adding that the district could consider a one-time bonus.
Chief Financial Officer Chris Scott estimated a 1% increase would be a $500 annual increase for the average employee or an additional $40 per paycheck.
The board did not reach a consensus during the meeting and is set to revisit the discussion at June’s regular board meeting.
“I know as a group you all value our staff,” Leonard said. “I also know you value class sizes, and I know you value being fiscally responsible”