Richardson ISD teachers are getting a raise, and homeowners could be getting a tax cut in the upcoming school year.
Adopted June 17, the district’s 2019-20 school year budget totals $467.9 million. Staff members across the board will receive raises between 3.5% and 5%, depending on position and tenure.
The bump for teachers and staff is in part due to House Bill 3, the landmark school finance reform bill signed into law June 11 by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The law requires that school districts funnel at least 30% of the state’s funding increase toward raises for employees other than administrators, Chief Financial Officer David Pate said at the June meeting. It also requires three-quarters of that 30% be allocated specifically toward compensation increases for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses.
But some residents said the district is not doing enough. Euan Blackman, a member of the RISD community, criticized administrators for not giving as big a raise as other districts.
“We should give teachers the pay raise that they deserve,” he said. “The state was explicit that they wanted to give teachers the maximum benefit.”
According to RISD, the teacher compensation increases are more than 4.5 times the state-required amount.
Trustee Kim Caston said the budget is intentionally conservative because of some unanswered questions regarding the sustainability of statewide school funding mandates included in HB 3.
“While HB 3 provides additional revenue for us, there are questions that linger and are very much in the forefront of how is the state going to pay for the gains we have all gotten going forward?” she said. “That’s a big question mark.”
Caston also pointed out that RISD is not only focused on retaining teachers but also on attracting new ones, resulting in an increase of the new teacher starting salary by 3.3% to $54,000 in school year 2019-20.
“You have to look at compensation holistically,” she said. “We might be a little bit conservative this year as it ensures sustainability and allows flexibility going forward.”
Homeowners also stand to benefit from this year’s budget changes. The property tax reform bill means the district can reduce its reliance on local tax revenue to support its general fund.
As a result, the district is proposing reducing its operating tax rate from $1.17 to $1.0684 per $100 valuation. This will provide an annual savings of about $157 for the average RISD homeowner, Pate said.
Trustees are expected to vote on the proposed 2019-20 tax rate at their Aug. 19 meeting.