Humble ISD trustees discussed employee compensation and a proposed plan to pay student teachers during an April 19 budget workshop.

According to Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen, the district’s goal for the fiscal year 2022-23 budget is to provide all employees with the resources they need to effectively address students’ needs.

“We really tried hard to have a something-for-everyone budget really focused on the people who are doing the work for our students,” Fagen said.

The district is recommending a 3% raise on average for all employees, HISD Chief Financial Officer Billy Beattie said. With the increase, officials said HISD's starting teacher salary would increase from $59,000 in FY 2021-22 to $60,500 in FY 2022-23.

“That allows us to remain competitive still with neighboring districts to be able to attract and retain the best staff possible,” Beattie said.

Additionally, officials are recommending a $1,000 stipend for auxiliary, child nutrition, custodial and transportation staff.

Beattie also noted a pair of proposed initiatives aimed at increasing teacher retention, including a plan to pay student teachers. According to Deputy Superintendent Rick Gardner, the district would pay student teachers $60 per day, which would equate to roughly $11,000 per year.

“The thought is, if we can secure this initiative and pay them when they’re a student teacher, let’s say in the fall ... [and] then have a vacancy for the following semester, they can automatically become teachers,” Gardner said, noting several nearby districts have already implemented similar measures. “This particular proposal would keep us in striking distance of these districts that are beginning to pay more and more for these types of roles.”

Beattie noted officials are considering a second proposal to help retain teachers that would entail the district covering the cost of paraprofessionals pursuing alternative certifications.

“25% of our para[professionals] have degrees, so it would just be the next step to get certified, and then they could help fill teacher vacancies,” Beattie said.

Prior to trustees' next budget workshop on May 24, Beattie said officials would review job positions to ensure current expectations do not exceed original job descriptions. Additionally, Beattie said the district would review additional employee stipends and voluntary health benefits.

“[We’re looking] anywhere we can save employees some money—maybe out-of-pocket costs on vision or dental,” he said. “Any way that we can get a better bang for their buck on those voluntary benefits.”

May 24 will be the final workshop held before a proposed budget is presented to trustees in June for approval. Last year, trustees approved a $549.6 million budget for FY 2021-22 that included a 3% average raise for all employees, a $1,400 retention stipend added to base pay for teachers and a $1,000 stipend for other staff.