School is almost back in session, and Hutto educators will have something extra to smile about with upcoming pay raises.

Hutto ISD approved its revised 2019-20 staff compensation plan with a 5-1 vote at its July 25 meeting, with more than $2.8 million in salary raises accounted into its academic year budget. Board member Edgar Padilla was not present for the meeting.

Thanks to House Bill 3, a new law passed by the Texas State Legislature, school districts across the state will receive $11.6 billion. Of that, $6.6 billion is earmarked for staff compensation increases for full-time employees.

In Hutto ISD, entry-level teachers with five or fewer years of teaching experience, along with all non-teaching staff, will see a 5% raise to their current salaries.

Employees with 6-21 years of experience will have 7% added to their paychecks, while those with 22-25 years teaching experience will receive an 8% increase. Teaching employees with 26 years or more will receive a 9% increase.

“I think we’re pretty competitive, especially with our 22 and over teachers," said Hutto ISD Superintendent Dr. Celina Estrada Thomas during the July 25 meeting.

The plan also outlined revisions to district-wide benefits such as health insurance plans.

Discussions regarding the 2019-20 compensation plan were first held at a July 18 budget workshop. New initiatives highlighted from the workshop included increasing the starting pay for district bus drivers and hiring additional instructional staff, along with adding crisis counselors who specialize in safety and security provisions.

Three options were presented to the school board for deliberations, with maximum-level raises ranging from 7-9%.

“This is a very unique year, but it’s really no different in how tough this decision is," said Hutto ISD Chief Financial Officer Glenn Graham.

In terms of Hutto ISD’s revenue, the district will take in nearly $78 million in the upcoming academic year, more than $9 million from the previous school year, per district documents presented at the July 18 workshop.

“We want to build into this pay structure that if you come to Hutto and you remain with us, your pay over the lifetime of your career is going to be higher than surrounding districts," Estrada Thomas said.