Dripping Springs ISD considers teacher compensation ahead of budget-planning process

The DSISD board of trustees heard a presentation on teacher pay at a recent meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The DSISD board of trustees heard a presentation on teacher pay at a recent meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The DSISD board of trustees heard a presentation on teacher pay at a recent meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees heard a report on teacher and staff compensation at its April 19 agenda review meeting and received recommendations for staff compensation planning as the district enters its budget planning process for the 2021-22 school year.

Luz Cadena, a human resources and compensation consultant from the Texas Association of School Boards, said DSISD lags slightly behind its peer districts in teacher compensation, paying teachers an average of $53,860, which is $962 behind the local market median salary. The exception was for the district’s most experienced educators, those with 20 years of experience or more, whose compensation is on par with or higher than the local market median.

The comparison did not include any one-time payments issued by DSISD or other districts this year; DSISD authorized a one-time $500 retention incentive for district staff in November to acknowledge "unanticipated extra workloads" caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Because that amount was not included into base pay, we can’t really, truly do an apples to apples comparison,” Cadena said.

To maintain competitive compensation, Cadena recommended DSISD prioritize strong starting salaries and midcareer salaries comparable to the local market, including districts such as Austin ISD, Eanes ISD and Lake Travis ISD. To close these gaps, she advised considering a 2%-3% general pay increase for teachers and staff, which would carry a cost of $1.23 million-$1.62 million.

The role of stipends was also discussed. Unlike six of its 16 area peers, DSISD does not offer stipends for faculty with secondary math and science specializations and offers a lower-than-median stipend for bilingual educators—$4,500 compared to $5,500.

“If the district begins to encounter difficulty recruiting quality teachers with these types of certification requirements, then the district could certainly consider adding a stipend so that [DSISD] could be competitive in pay with peer districts,” Cadena said.

The district will consider teacher pay and other budget line items over the coming months. A proposed budget is set to be released June 14 with a budget for the 2021-22 year adopted by June 28.

Editor's note: This story was updated April 22 to reflect the correct amount of DSISD's rentention incentives issued last year.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.