The budget, which includes the general fund, the child nutrition fund and debt service fund, is operating on about $550.6 million in revenue, leaving the district with a surplus of a little more than $1 million for the coming school year.
In the last fiscal year, the district's approved budget for 2020-21did not include employee raises due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. This fiscal year, however, the district’s budget includes a 3% average raise for all employees, a $1,400 retention stipend added to base pay for teachers, a $1,000 stipend for other staff and raises the minimum hourly wage for full-time auxiliary staff members to $11.50. The district is also bumping its starting teacher salary from $56,700 to $59,000 annually.
HISD Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen lauded the additional compensation included in the new budget during the June 15 meeting.
“Last year was a very uncertain year when we ended the year in the COVID[-19] lockdown, and we didn’t know what was going to happen with the state budget,” she said. “A lesser staff may have been anxious about the fact that we did a [compensation] freeze to keep the family whole. Our staff was completely supportive. ... I’m very pleased with the work [human resources] and finance have done to bring together this compensation improvement.”
According to HISD Chief Financial Officer Billy Beattie, the district will bring in roughly 1,000 new students in the 2021-22 school year. To account for that growth, the district will open Autumn Creek Elementary School in the fall and plans to open the district’s 10th middle school the following school year.
HISD Chief Communications Officer Jamie Mount said the additional staffing was budgeted to support the increased student enrollment as the district continues to grow. That staffing includes a principal and a bookkeeper for the district's new middle school to prepare for its opening in August 2022, officials noted.
Additionally, the district's 2021-22 budget allots funding for additional special education teachers, dyslexia campus support staff and bilingual dyslexia/dysgraphia specialists.