Equalizing pay part of HCISD budget talks

By Kim Hilsenbeck

It’s spring and that means budget season for Hays CISD. As the board of trustees and district officials hash through another year of budget talks, with an estimated $136,717,270 budget, there are some key points on the table.

The biggest one is arguably compensation for teachers and other staff.

This year, district administrators propose creating two separate salary schedules, one for academic professional and one for business professionals.

Another tenet in this year’s budget is pay equitization, a term used by district staff in its presentation. The district defines that term as the process of equally and proportionately spreading the base hourly or daily rates across the current pay rate scales.

At a budget workshop meeting last week, Human Resources Director Elaine Howard said, “We will use an actual formula to develop those rates.”

In 2014, based on the findings of a Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) study, pay grades and rates were evaluated and adjusted. However, last year’s process did not include the kind of detailed work being conducted this year.

Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said this year’s budget talks are a continuation of that effort.

Under the pay equitization plan, Howard said, “Not all teachers and staff will get a raise, but all salaries will be equitized.”

The formula will use the full range of the pay grade. The midpoint, Howard said, is where an employee should be on the scale if they are in the middle of their career, which is based on a 30-year career in education.

For example, a school principal with 18 years of experience — eight years as a teacher and 10 as a principal — will get 14 years applied credit. The midpoint is between $58,000 and $62,000.

Ron Morrison, the Executive Director of Human Resources, said his staff is combing through the employment files of every single employee to equitize pay.

In the district right now, there are some assistant principals, for example, who make less than teachers. About 13 assistant principals are paid $50,000 less than they should be, relative to market value.

“That doesn’t bother me as much as there’s no logical reason for it,” trustee Marty Kanetzky said.

Teresa Tobias asked Howard, “How are people paid more than they should be?”

“The answer is there has been some favoritism,” she said. “There were no checks and balances and no accountability.”

The district is also helping teachers and staff by creating career pathways, similar to those in Denver and Houston.

Positions included in what is called the enterprise fund, such as child care workers and print shop employees, will be included in the compensation plan. Controversy earlier this school year helped the board uncover the fact that some employees were paid from a different fund.

Howard told the board that childcare workers at Hays CISD are grossly underpaid. After reviewing what other districts and private firms pay, which she said is between $9.75 and $10.25 an hour, Howard told the board, “We recommend $10.50 an hour.”

The proposed budget also keeps the $325 monthly contribution from the district toward employee health insurance premiums.

While the final budget numbers won’t be ready until later this year — in part because of what happens at the state legislature with public educaiton funding — board members seemed pleased with what they heard at the meeting, in particular the discussions about faculty and staff compensation.

“This makes my heart so happy, you have no idea,” trustee Holly Smith-Raymond told district officials. 

Teaching ratios

Hays CISD teaching staff ratios for 2015-2016 

K-4 ratio is 22:1 (20:1 if school receives  Title I funding)

Fifth grade ratio is 25:1 (23:1 for Title I schools)

6th-8th ratios are 23:1 and 22:1.

High school ratio is 24:1.


Budget highlights

The proposed $136,717,270 budget for Hays CISD for the 2015-2016 school year is based on an estimate enrollment of more than 18,700 students.

It includes the following recommendations (not all inclusive of budget package):

Receptionists at all five middle schools – $159,000

Professional registrars at high schools – $65,000

A half time Licensed Vocational Nurse at each high school – $35,640

Two assistant middle school principals, one at Chapa, one at Simon – $154,000

Two middle school SIM coaches at Dahlstrom and Chapa – $110,000

Two middle school counselors at Simon and Chapa – $120,000

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