This is a quick summary of what we know and what you should expect regarding the pay raises approved by the legislature for school employees (HB 3) in the recent session.
 
$5000 was always a proposal, never a promise (and most won’t get it).
As we reported throughout the session, the $5,000 pay raise was proposed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who deserves some credit for starting pay raise discussions. However, Gov. Greg Abbott, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath were never on board. Many superintendents came to Austin to testify for “local control,” indicating that they were in a better position to take care of their teachers’ salaries. TCTA testified and lobbied at every opportunity that if a pay raise were not mandated by the legislature, many teachers would not get it. 
 
In the end, the Senate agreed to the House structure, and the final version of the bill did not include a specific, required pay raise for all teachers.
 
So what should I expect?

As we’ve reported in previous publications 30% of the new (additional) funding received by districts must be spent to increase the salaries of non-administrative employees. (Note that generally districts indicate that 50% of their budgets go to teacher compensation, so this should not be an onerous burden on districts.) The majority of that is designated specifically for teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians, and HB 3 says that districts should prioritize compensation for teachers with more than five years of experience. The bill allows increases in benefits such as health insurance contributions to count as compensation increases.
 
This leaves the amount and structure of the raise almost completely up to district discretion.
 

One important point to remember is that teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians who are paid at or near the state minimum salary schedule will be guaranteed a raise, because the state minimum increased by about 20%. See the new salary schedule here. Regardless of what else your district is doing regarding salaries, it must at least meet the new minimum salary schedule.
 
What kinds of plans are districts adopting?
Most of the plans we have seen so far provide raises for at least all of their non-administrative employees; many are choosing to also provide raises to administrators. Some are increasing health insurance contributions. Some are increasing salaries by a fixed dollar amount, while others are raising salaries by a percentage. Note that 30% for the designated categories of employees is a minimum. Your district can use more than the 30% minimum for compensation increases, and can provide raises for other groups of employees with funding beyond the 30%.
 
The ranges we’re seeing begin at a minimum of $2,000 or a percentage increase of 2-3% for teachers with 0-5 years of experience. Typically in these districts on the lower end, more experienced teachers receive at least $2,500 or 3-4%. On the upper end, we’ve seen increases of 7-8.5%, or dollar amounts of up to $5,000.
 
Some districts are providing at least a portion of the raise in the form of a one-time stipend or bonus, which is an approach that the school administrator and school board associations have recommended due to concerns about whether there is a sufficient revenue source to sustain these raises in the future. It is true that the legislature has not identified an ongoing revenue stream to support the new level of school funding, but the formulas will remain in place and the 2021 session will be the time to address this issue — it is not your school board’s problem now.

If your district does choose the stipend/bonus approach, it will need to be structured carefully to meet TRS rules for compensation eligible to be included in the calculations for retirement benefits. We are awaiting guidance from TRS and will share it with you when available.
 
Another complicating factor is that some districts have complained that the funding amounts estimated by TEA are inaccurate and overstate how much they will be receiving. You can see how much additional funding your district is estimated by TEA to receive by clicking here. Check out the “Change in Total M&O Revenue” column and do the math to determine the 30% that TEA estimates your district must spend on compensation increases. (Note that districts are organized alphabetically according to House legislative districts, so look up your state representative’s name to find your district.) In the “Change in Total M&O Revenue per Current Law ADA” column, you will see that some districts are receiving significantly more new funding per student than others, due to other provisions in the school finance formulas. This accounts for much of the variance among districts in the amounts of the raises.
 
Districts with a fiscal year beginning July 1 had until June 19 to prepare their budgets (which should include details about pay raises); those with a fiscal year beginning September 1 must prepare a budget by August 20. Budgets can be amended subsequently. If you haven’t already heard what your district plans to do, you should be hearing soon, and we urge you to talk with your superintendent and school board members as soon as possible to provide feedback. 
 
HB 3 also provides funding for merit pay, so districts may soon turn their attention to devising merit pay proposals. That’s a topic for a different update, but we suggest that members be alert to any such discussions that are being held in your district.

LINKS TO IMPORTANT INFORMATION: