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School board considers raise for counselors

By Andy Sevilla

Despite some administration resistance, school board members seem poised to adjust counselor pay next month after the employees complained of inequity in pay.

Hays CISD counselors were restructured into the administrative professional pay schedule this school year, per Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) recommendation, and received only a 1.5 percent pay increase. 

Under the counselors’ previous compensation schedule, they would have received an average 3.99 percent pay raise, as teachers did this school year. 

“I think that we have done this group of employees wrong,” Trustee Merideth Keller said at the board’s Oct. 27 meeting. “And I think it’s time to make it right.”

School district administrators agree that work needs to be done on salary adjustments for school counselors, however they caution pay changes should be instituted only after salary market comparisons have been reviewed for all district employees, and not just one group.

“I would caution the board on taking any action for just one group of employees,” Superintendent Mike McKie said at the Oct. 27 meeting. “We may have several groups, yet to be determined, that could be positively or negatively impacted by this action.”

McKie stressed that the board should evaluate all employee salaries, before making any adjustments to pay for any group.

“If the issue here is that we feel that there should have been a larger pay increase, I think that every employee in the district feels that way. And they should, because everybody is woefully underpaid,” Board President Robert Limon said. “And I think that coming back in November and December and just addressing one group just opens up a big can of worms.”

However, Limon said that if something wrong was done during counselor pay restructuring, then that matter needs to be corrected.

“It’s my hope that if we have additional resources this year that we can do something, that we do it as a comprehensive plan that benefits all our employees,” he said.

Keller, however, with support from an apparent majority of the board, wants counselor pay adjustments at the board’s earliest opportunity.

“I’m happy to look at the other groups. I think that we need to do that,” Keller said. “We can only do so much with the amount of money that we have this year and we certainly want to do more. I want to look at the counselor group now. I don’t want to wait until November.”

Ultimately, the board didn’t have any salary recommendations to deliberate at their Oct. 27 meeting, but Hays CISD Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff said he would present the policy makers with a few salary adjustment options on counselor pay to move forward with at their November meetings. 

McKie said administrators would look into the updated salary recommendations from TASB, as well as in-house assessments on employee salaries, pay grades, daily rates and cumulative wages. He said administrators also would weigh salary figures school counselors presented to the board in September.

“I just want to make sure that whatever TASB is doing, I don’t want… the tail wagging the dog,” Trustee Holly Smith-Raymond said. “We should be leading this and leading the change… We need to make the best decision for us and making it fair and equitable.”

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