Fort Bend ISD examines budget in anticipation of teacher raises

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Updated May 7: Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 3, which will give teachers and librarians a $5,000 pay raise. Before the bill can be signed into law, the legislature will discuss how to offer the pay raises, according to the Texas Tribune.

As a bill giving raises to Texas teachers and librarians makes its way through the Texas Legislature, Fort Bend ISD is looking at how the change would affect its budget should the bill be passed.

Senate Bill 3 was unanimously approved by the Senate on March 4 and would provide a $5,000 raise in annual pay for full-time classroom teachers beginning in the 2019-20 school year. An amendment was added to the bill just prior to vote that adds a raise for librarians. The bill is authored by State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound and co-authored by several senators including Joan Huffman, R-Houston and Borris Miles, D-Houston,

FBISD officials agreed that teachers need a raise, but thought it should be decided at the local level, according to a district presentation on legislative and budget matters given to the board of trustees at its Feb. 18 meeting.

If the bill is passed, the salary increase for 4,750 teachers in FBISD would account for $23.7 million, or an 8.48 percent raise, FBISD Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett said.

Beginning salary for a Fort Bend ISD teacher is $53,000, according to the district. Roughly 42 percent of the district’s 11,398 employees are teachers.

The bill does not include counselors, nurses or other staff, or a provision to increase the district’s teacher retirement system expenditures, Bassett said.

“I have seen two mandatory raises for teachers since I have been involved in school finance, and this is the first time I have seen this not count counselors, librarians and nurses,” Bassett said.

The district looked at what it would cost to give those positions—about 4,339 people—a raise as well and found it would hit the budget at about $8.7 million. This would be an unfunded mandate for the district, according to the presentation.

The Senate budgeted $3.7 billion for the raises, but expects that to increase to account for teacher retirement benefits, which it anticipates to be about $257 million over the next two years, according to the bill’s fiscal notes.

Bassett also discussed another bill, SB 393, relating to contribution rates for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas increasing from 1.5 percent to 2 percent over five years. If no provisions were made by the state to help out districts, Fort Bend officials estimate an impact of $4.2 million between 2020-24, with ongoing costs of $2.2 million per year after.

SB 3 now heads to the full senate for a vote.

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Christine Hall
Christine Hall joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2018, and covers Missouri City and Fort Bend ISD. She previously reported on health care innovation for the Texas Medical Center, was a freelancer, and held various news roles at the Houston Business Journal.
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