San Marcos CISD board votes against temporary raise for hourly employees

Clem Cantu, San Marcos CISD board president, introduced an agenda item for a proposal to temporarily increase the district's hourly pay during the Sept. 21 meeting. (Screen shot courtesy SMCISD)
Clem Cantu, San Marcos CISD board president, introduced an agenda item for a proposal to temporarily increase the district's hourly pay during the Sept. 21 meeting. (Screen shot courtesy SMCISD)

Clem Cantu, San Marcos CISD board president, introduced an agenda item for a proposal to temporarily increase the district's hourly pay during the Sept. 21 meeting. (Screen shot courtesy SMCISD)

Hourly employees at San Marcos CISD were looking at a proposed temporary $2 per hour pay bump starting Oct. 1, but the district's budget numbers cannot currently bear the weight of that increase.

This is according to James Barton, SMCISD's assistant superintendent of business and support services, who said so far there is not a fiscally feasible path to execute the increase.

The move would cost an additional $140,000 per month in payroll expenditures to implement, Barton said, adding that is not even the proposal's biggest hurdle.

One of the most serious challenges is that the district modifies salaries for its annual employees so they receive a consistent check on months with fewer days such as November and December and through the summer, he said.

"The $2 additional is paying for hours that they will actually receive later," Barton said. "It doesn't all work out to be in the same month, and that simply is not functional with our system."


Another reason the proposal was inoperable for the district was that it carried with it an open-ended date for termination. Therefore, Barton said, the district could not make the temporary pay hike compatible with its budgetary computer software.

"Our payroll personnel has been working hard on this for two months ... and I'll tell you right now we don't have an avenue toward implementing this," Barton said.

The district's fund balance as of mid-September stood at $14.65 million, Barton said, adding SMCISD is making a slow climb into collecting revenue for the 2021 fiscal year.

"We are just now starting to collect property taxes, and we are just now bringing in 2% or our projected revenue for next year," he said. "So, we're climbing that hill."

Trustee Miguel Arredondo asked Barton how it was possible that earlier this year, the district provided time-and-a-half pay to employees with the same, unspecified timeline for termination for a small subset of district employees.

Barton explained the payroll department was able to use an overtime pay function, and it did not come close to the amount of money the current proposal seeks to pay out.

"For the most part, trustee Arredondo, our employees—our bus drivers, our custodians—they were at home," Barton said. "We weren't having to touch that many employees to implement that. This would be 600 employees twice a month."

Officials voted 4-2 against the raise during the Sept. 21 board of trustees meeting, with trustees Arredondo and Anne Halsey voting for the pay increase.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.