Counselor pay revisited: Professionals ask for salary adjustment

By Andy Sevilla

Up in arms over what they call an inequity in pay, Hays CISD school counselors are now asking for a pay raise after having their wage schedule reclassified this school year.

Hays CISD counselors were removed from a counselor placement pay schedule, much like the one teachers, librarians and nurses are under, and introduced into the administrative professional compensation plan, per recommendations by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).

Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said TASB conducted a salary study for Hays CISD this summer.

Under the move, counselors this year received a 1.5 percent pay increase over their mid-point salary in their range, Savoy said.

Under their previous pay schedule, counselors would have received an average 3.99 percent pay increase this school year, depending on their years of service, just as teachers received.

“I felt devalued that the counselors were removed from the counselor salary schedule this past May,” Elm Grove Elementary Counselor Cindy Hillman told the school board at an Oct. 22 meeting.

Hillman said she is the only school counselor for 730 students at her elementary.

“That is one of the concerns that we have: with pay being lower, and we have more demands on our schedule,” Carpenter Hill Elementary Counselor Kelly Coleman told the board. Coleman said she has 20 years experience in education, with the past 12 years at Hays CISD. Every year enrollment at schools increases, but counselors are not added at a pace to keep up with growth, she said. Coleman is the lone counselor at her elementary with 633 students. She said the Texas Education Code suggests a 500-to-1 student-to-counselor ratio, though ideally it’d be closer to 350-to-1.

After listening to several Hays CISD counselors at both September meetings appeal to the board for help in settling the pay restructuring, board members will have the matter on their October agenda.

Savoy said the school board is slated to hear a presentation by TASB on counselor salary in October. The board will deliberate the matter with TASB and district administration to determine options moving forward, he said.

“We ask that you please take into consideration our hard work and dedication to this district, profession and most importantly the students and families of Hays CISD,” Hays High lead counselor Bonnie Bosarge told the board at the Sept. 15 meeting.

Bosarge said counselors are seeking a three percent pay raise to be administered retroactively this school year. She also asked the board to place counselors back on their original pay scale based on total years of service, reinstate service rewards for years in the district, and recalculate counselor salaries using daily rate comparison data of counselors in other districts and not annual salaries.

Bosarge expressed an interest in having the district notify counselors of their salary next school year before being expected to return to the district and sign contracts.

“I believe years of experience should be a significant factor in pay,” Hillman said. “We need to keep our salaries competitive with neighboring districts in order to retain quality counselors for our students here at Hays CISD.”

 

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