San Marcos CISD teachers, administrators and clerical, paraprofessional and auxiliary employees will all get raises next year.
The SMCISD board of trustees on Monday voted to give all 570 teachers a $1,500 raise—setting the new teacher salary at $48,500—to remain competitive against other school districts. The move will cost the district $880,395.
The board also voted to create compression adjustments, meaning teachers who have between 5-25 years of experience and between 36-38 years of experience get an additional raise. That means a teacher with 10 years of experience, for example, would be paid $52,900 annually under the adjusted step schedule.
The compression adjustments will apply to 534 teachers and will cost the district $589,606.
The state's average salary for teaching staff is $52,525, according to 2016-17 Texas Education Agency staff salary reports.
Auxiliary, paraprofessional and clerical employees will also receive a $2-per-hour wage increase, and administrators will receive a 3 percent midpoint increase. The total cost for the auxiliary, paraprofessional and clerical staff increases is $1.58 million. The 3 percent administrator midpoint raise will cost the district $325,955.
The board also voted to increase the amount the district contributes to employees' healthcare benefits by $15 a month. For 967 employees, that will cost the district $174,060.
In total, the district will spend about $3.38 million on salary increases and benefit contributions.
Karen Griffith, the district's assistant superintendent of business and support services, said she estimates this will put the district at a $3.5 million deficit budget, which would be covered through the board's fund balance. Preliminary estimates show the fund balance would have $37.09 million in it during fiscal year 2018-19.
Some trustees also proposed one-time longevity stipends for employees who have been with the district for more than five years, but the motion was denied 3-4 with trustees Anne Halsey, Miguel Arredondo and Lupe Costilla voting for the stipends.
"The longevity increase doubles down on what we're doing by fixing the steps, and it does it in a very imprecise way, so I'm going to be voting against because we can't afford it and because of that longevity incentive," Trustee John McGlothlin said. "It's easy to spend money but it's going to make for real decisions down the line. If this board does this today, a board in about four or five years is going to really face a reckoning for us being completely irresponsible with our money."
Halsey disagreed, saying it was time for teachers to be rewarded for their dedication to SMCISD and time teachers received some salary compression adjustments and employees got closer to a living wage, especially as SMCISD faces the threat of recapture—in which school districts that meet a certain property revenue threshold must give part of their balance to the state to be distributed to property-poor districts—in three years.
"If we don't take serious steps now to remedy that and do the things necessary to make this a destination district for families across Central Texas, then pretty soon, all of our taxpayers are going to be writing checks and sending them to other schools across the state," she said.
Arredondo's proposal to give $500 stipends to all employees who live within the school district boundaries was also shut down, with only Arredondo and Halsey voting to support it.
"When you put money and you incentivize certain things, it pits people against each other," Superintendent Michael Cardona said.