The Texas Senate has approved a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for all classroom teachers, and added librarians to the bill at a cost of $53 million through an amendment offered by bill sponsor Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). SB 3 passed on a 31-0 vote and will now head to the House.

The $5,000 raise would be on top of what teachers are making under their district salary schedules; it is not an increase to the state minimum salary schedule. 

As currently structured, the raise only applies to classroom teachers and librarians, but TCTA will continue to advocate that other employees such as counselors and nurses be included. Under current law, teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians are the categories of personnel who are subject to the state minimum salary schedule, and previous state-mandated raises have included all of these employees. In addition to this across-the-board increase, we will continue to recommend that districts be given enough discretionary funding to provide much-needed raises for other crucial personnel such as educational aides.

During a discussion about other pieces of legislation that could help with teacher recruitment and retention, Nelson noted that Sen. Larry Taylor is expected to file school finance legislation that may include provisions for merit pay (which would be on top of the $5,000 increase). In addition, Sen. Joan Huffman will be filing major TRS legislation that would include a 13th check for retirees.

The raise is ongoing, not simply a one- or two-year bonus, and it is funded by the state. There has been some concern that language in the bill appears to limit the raise to only the next two years, but an amendment proposed and drafted by TCTA was added during the bill’s committee hearing and included in the version that passed the Senate to clarify that the raise will continue unless specific legislation is passed in the future to undo it.

Passage through the Senate is only part of the process; SB 3 will now move to the House for consideration. The House is expected to introduce school finance legislation Tuesday, which may or may not include a teacher compensation component. House leaders thus far have not appeared to favor the across-the-board strategy for improving teacher compensation. TCTA will continue to stress the need for all key employees to receive a significant salary increase.