Gov. Greg Abbott on June 11, 2019, signed HB 3 into law, calling it a “monumental moment” to “transform public education in the state of Texas.” The bill increases per-student spending, reduces property taxes and instructs local districts to use part of the new state money to raise pay for non-administrators. TEA has created a webpage with more information about HB 3 provisions, along with guidance for districts as it continues to determine how the bill will impact Texas public schools.
HB 3 boosts the minimum state salary schedule by about 20 percent. (Click here to see the official schedule released by TEA.) But beyond increases required due to the salary schedule changes, the bill leaves the amount of individual salary increases up to each school district.
So far, we’ve seen a mixed approach to salary increases. Some districts, including Austin and Humble ISDs, are planning 7% across-the-board pay increases for teachers. Laredo ISD is increasing salaries and monthly health insurance contributions for employees. Other districts are looking at smaller increases of 2% to 4%, and still others are taking a more cautious approach, citing concerns over whether continued funding will be available after 2021.
The Texas Association of School Boards told the Houston Chronicle it is advising districts to issue stipends or bonuses to employees instead of raises. This could have implications for retirement benefit calculations, as TRS has strict rules about what is considered compensation creditable for TRS purposes. Districts may need to structure stipends or bonuses in a very specific way to meet the TRS requirements. TCTA reached out to TRS staff for more information and we will update our members as soon as more details are available. In the meantime, members working with their districts on the local compensation structure should ask their school board/superintendent to ensure that any increases would be counted toward salary for TRS purposes.
We encourage our members to take notice of scheduled school board meetings this summer where budgets and salaries will be discussed. The flexibility in HB 3 means that districts have many options, so it will be crucial that employees get involved in the process, let your districts know that you’re paying attention, and provide feedback on your preferences.