North East ISD trustees voted June 10 to approve a one-time 1.5% retention supplement for teachers and staff to be paid in November. However, school district leaders said the fiscal year 2024-25 budget, scheduled for adoption June 17, will not feature any staff pay raises.

In a nutshell

The retention supplement plan approved by the school board will have full-time teachers and librarians receive $917 while all other eligible employees will get a one-time supplement of 1.5% of their annual pay grade midpoint. The minimum supplement payment will be $375, school district officials said.

All eligible NEISD workers must have a hire date on or before Oct. 1, 2024, to receive the retention incentive this November. All other temporary and substitute employees are ineligible for the retention payment. The estimated retention payments collectively total $6 million.

Put in perspective

District administrators said lingering worries about a projected $40.3 million budget shortfall and potential inaction over public education funding in the 2025 Texas Legislature compelled them to mull a retention stipend in lieu of pay hikes in FY 2024-25.

Trustees in neighboring Northside ISD met in May to adopt a 2% general pay hike and a one-time $1,100 retention supplement for specific employees for the next fiscal year. Ahead of FY 2023-24, NEISD implemented a 2% pay increase for employees plus a 1.5% retention supplement.

NEISD administrators told trustees NEISD had encountered a negative trend in average daily attendance, or ADA, earlier in the 2023-24 academic year, but the number improved toward the end of the school year. ADA figures weigh heavily on the amount of money a public school district receives from the state.

A positive ADA trend toward the conclusion of the 2023-24 academic year prompted NEISD officials to lower their estimate for decreased state funding based on ADA figures from $38 million to $34 million.

This, district officials added, allowed them to enlarge their retention payment from an original 1% proposal, which would have cost NEISD $4 million. A 1% pay raise for the next fiscal year, which NEISD administrators briefly considered, would have meant a $4.3 million hit on the district’s general fund budget.

Sorting out details

NEISD officials project a $612.3 million general fund budget for FY 2024-25, a decrease from the $615.7 million budget the school board adopted for daily district operations and maintenance for FY 2023-24.

The biggest projected budget reduction for FY 2024-25 would be $8.6 million in full-time, unfilled teaching positions being cut due to declining overall student enrollment.

What they’re saying

Susie Lackorn, executive director for the NEISD’s finance and accounting department, said the retention supplement likely will be the only type of increased pay for some employees because of an estimated $40 million million budget shortfall and district officials feeling pessimistic about the outcome of public school financing in 2025's state legislative session.

"We’d would love to be always providing great raises for our staff; it’s just by looking at that deficit and looking at what the forecast of the next legislative session is leading us to,” Lackorn said.

What’s next

Trustees are scheduled to approve the FY 2024-25 budget at their June 17 meeting and set a property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year in September.