DSISD OKs teacher pay raises

A pay raise for Dripping Springs ISD teachers is forthcoming after district leaders Monday approved the measure following passage of key legislation in Austin.

Through approval of House Bill (HB) 3 in May, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month, DSISD is projected to receive roughly $3.7 million in additional funding based on changes for per-student allotment, recapture requirements and tax revenue.

As a result, district leaders June 24 approved 7-0 a 5% salary increase, based on average teacher pay, for educators with five or more years of experience. Other educators that do not fall into that category will receive a 4% pay bump.

Additionally, benefit contributions like health insurance were increased by $600 a year.

“We greatly appreciate that the legislature made public education a priority this session and the steps they took were positive,” said DSISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing. “In my opinion, the work the legislature did was not only difficult, but impressive.”

The signing of House Bill (HB) 3 ensures an additional $11.6 billion in public school finance, which means extra cash for school districts in Hays County.

The bill, dubbed one of the biggest achievements of the session, includes $6.5 billion in new public education money with the remaining $5.1 billion slated for property tax relief.

However, questions still linger on how school districts will sustain those increases in the future.

If the funding from HB 3 is not honored in the next legislative session, school district officials fear the burden of salary increases could fall on individual districts.

Gearing said sustainability of increased expenditures is always a consideration as employee raises become part of their salary for the long term.

“So, yes, I think we are always concerned that the state will provide money for the short term that will go away over time, leaving districts with the responsibility to fill the gap,” Gearing said. “As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we need to make responsible decisions to maintain the district’s financial stability.”

HB 3 is projected to increase per-student funding by around 20% while funding all-day pre-K.

Subsequently, the bill will reduce the amount of money wealthy school districts must send to the state under the current recapture, or “Robin Hood,” system. 

“I don’t necessarily think it fixes everything and I don’t think the process delivered on all promises, but the legislature did great work,” Gearing said. “I believe the effort to revise the education funding formulas and to pump additional money into the system was genuine and accomplished much of what they set out to do.

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