Lake Travis ISD employees will receive a 1% pay raise next school year.

The board of trustees adopted the compensation increase at a June 5 special meeting as the district faces a nearly $4 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2024-25.

What’s happening

The board approved LTISD administration’s recommendation to raise staff salaries by 1% for the 2024-25 school year, totaling $706,000 across the district. LTISD will also raise its starting teacher salary from $56,000 to $57,000, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Susan Fambrough said.

The 1% compensation increase is the lowest pay raise the district has adopted in over a decade since raising pay by 1.5% in the 2013-14 school year, said Pam Sanchez, assistant superintendent for business services, at a May 15 meeting.

Many board members expressed frustration over not being able to provide staff a larger raise due to the district's mounting budget shortfall amid a lack of state funding.

The basic allotment of funding per student has not increased since 2019 while the district’s enrollment growth flattens, Sanchez said. Although property values have increased, LTISD's tax rate continues to decrease due to compression from the state while the district's recapture payments grow, she said.

At the June 5 meeting, the board amended the resolution increasing staff pay to include language that would allow the district to further raise salaries after the start of the fiscal year if the Texas Legislature chose to reconvene to increase school funding.

The district has lowered its initial budget shortfall projection from $6.68 million to $3.98 million by reducing staff positions through attrition and vacancies as well as cutting nonpayroll operating costs, Sanchez said.

What they’re saying

Place 1 board member Phillip Davis proposed raising salaries by 2%, as he said a 1% raise did not sufficiently compensate staff amid cost of living increases.

“This is a point where I'm willing to bet on and invest in our staff and our teachers,” Davis said. “I know that we all would like to give them more, but we are in a position where we can make a decision that makes a difference here.”

Despite expressing a desire to pay employees more, several board members raised concerns about the impact of a larger salary increase on the district’s financial situation in light of its projected budget shortfall.

“I would hope that our teachers and staff know that this pay increase ... is not a reflection of how we value them,” school board President Erin Archer said. “There's not enough money that we could give to pay our staff for what I think that they do for our community and for our children.”

Davis suggested the district look to raise student attendance as a means to fund employee pay increases. A 1% increase from the district’s attendance rate of 94.5% could bring in an additional $700,000 as public schools are funded based on attendance and not enrollment, Sanchez said.

Stay tuned

The board will adopt the district’s FY 2024-25 budget in August. With a tax rate of $1.052 per $100 valuation, the district is projected to incur $166,158,786 in expenses while receiving $162,180,202 in revenues, resulting in a $3.98 million shortfall, according to district documents.

In FY 2025-26, the district is expected to have a budget surplus of almost $4.5 million due to changing its fiscal year start date from Sept. 1 to July 1, which will result in a one-time payment of $10 million, Sanchez said.