Going into the 88th legislative session with a $30+ billion budget surplus, most Capitol observers assumed that lawmakers would address the teacher shortage crisis in part with a meaningful salary increase. But as the Legislature enters the final weeks of session, the options currently on the table are far from satisfactory.
The following excerpts are from a recent Texas Tribune article:
SB 9 would give teachers a one-time bonus of $2,000, plus an additional $4,000 for those who work in districts with less than 20,000 students. It was voted out of the Senate and still needs House approval before going to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Teachers and unions have criticized the use of districts’ student enrollment to decide which educators get the bigger bonus, saying it’s a less-than-ideal way to determine who needs the money the most. Creighton has said the $6,000 bonus is aimed at helping rural school teachers, as they are usually paid less than their urban and suburban counterparts. ...
In the lower chamber, HB 100 would raise the base amount of money a district gets per student, which is currently $6,160 per student and has not increased since 2019. The bill is the lower chamber’s response to the recommendations of a task force formed last year by Abbott to look into the causes of the state’s teacher shortage.
HB 100 would raise the district’s allotment per student to $6,250 next school year and to $6,300 in 2025, when the state would consider raising that amount more to account for inflation. It would also require districts, which currently have to use 30% of the state funds they receive to pay for employee raises, to increase that share to 50%.
But the raise teachers would receive from King’s bill is far from what they had hoped, with some estimates showing teachers would get about an extra $100 a month in their paychecks at best.
Many lawmakers are ignoring the education community’s requests for significantly more funding to meet current challenges, including the teacher shortage. Currently, the House is considering $5.5 billion in additional school funding, while the Senate has signaled that its limit is $3.5 billion. By comparison, schools received $6.5 billion in 2019 via HB 3, and the combination of inflation and COVID consequences has significantly increased public school expenses since then.
With only two weeks left in the session, time is running out for legislators to approve a real, significant, across-the-board increase that will benefit teachers and other educators, as TCTA has consistently advocated. The only chance for change is for legislators to hear directly from teachers asking for a pay raise.
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