At the meeting Gema Padgett, executive director of GCISD Human Resources, explained that since last April the district partnered with the Texas Association of School Boards to complete a comprehensive pay study, measuring GCISD's compensation plans against other districts in the area.
A line graph she presented showed GCISD's teacher pay starting at $50,000, but the local market starts at $52,000.
"You can see that with some of the most veteran teachers with the most experience, that gap widens," Padgett said. "... In all of the positions in GCISD we are below the market."
The district also conducts an annual employee satisfaction survey each spring. Padgett said the data from the survey was mostly positive, with 91 percent of employees surveyed saying they were satisfied in their jobs, and 90 percent reported as feeling they have a supportive work environment.
The trouble begins, she said, when it comes to compensation satisfaction. Only 68 percent of staff surveyed said they were satisfied with their compensation and benefits. Padgett said to compound the issue, 46 percent of staff surveyed said they would consider leaving the school district because of pay.
In light of this information, the board approved the following compensation measures:
- begin first-year teacher pay at $51,500;
- implement a pay increase of $1,575 for all teachers, translating to a 2.5 percent increase of the median for the teacher pay groups;
- provide targeted pay increases to teachers with experience between three and 27 years in order to assist in market competitiveness;
- adopt adjusted, market-competitive pay structures for all non-teaching positions;
- implement a 2.5 percent pay increase of the new pay grade midpoint for all positions not on the teacher pay scale;
- provide targeted adjustments for all non-teaching pay structures;
- implement the recommended stipend structures and targeted adjustments.
These recommendations totaled a $2.5 million investment into the staff compensations.
Following the motion for approval, members of the board commented on the action.
"My mom barely outlived her funds as a Texas retired teacher," trustee Becky St. John said. "... It's important to address the needs of our teachers and our staff now. These are things that will keep our teachers in the classroom. ... GCISD is not just about the pay, but the culture and the atmosphere here as well. ... This is not an easy decision to make, but it’s the right decision to make."
Board President Lisa Pardo agreed.
"Happiness isn’t going to keep them here—46 percent of them would leave us at such a great district," she said. "... It's a necessary vote."
In a video shared with district employees immediately following the meeting, Superintendent Robin Ryan said teachers and staff can expect to see this increase reflected in their first check of the 2018-19 school year.
"I say it all the time and I mean it: We have the best employees in the state of Texas," Ryan said in the video. "I’m thankful that our trustees make it a priority to take care of our staff the same way that you take care of students each and every day."