San Angelo ISD Fears State will Demand $1 Million in Pay Raises from Local Funds
SAN ANGELO, TX – School districts across Texas are scrambling to find local funding for Governor Greg Abbott’s priority of a $1,000 pay raise for teachers as the special legislative session looms.
Jeff Bright, San Angelo ISD Assistant Superintendent of Business Support Services, says the governor’s current plan has forced the district to hold off on giving any pay raises this year. “It’s the textbook definition of an unfunded state mandate.”
Standing in the governor’s way is San Angelo’s State Representative Drew Darby.
Bright says “Drew Darby really stepped up to the plate for school districts.” Darby has filed nine bills for the special legislative session, most of them providing state funding for schools.
“I have heard from lots of school teachers and property owners in this short interim that are mad and demanding real solutions to their concerns,” Darby said. “The governor told us to make it count and we need to work together to address school finance and real property tax relief.”
Darby filed several bills for the special session which would help school districts:
- HB 75 would transfer half the unspent balance of the state’s general revenue to the property tax relief fund and to lower school property taxes;
- HB 76 would lower Teacher Retirement System retiree health care premiums;
- HB 78 would prohibit the legislature from doubling down on the Robin Hood school finance system by relying on 14 percent local property tax growth to balance the state’s obligation to fund schools;
- HB 79 would increase the state’s budget to pay for the $1,000 teacher pay raise requested by the governor; and
- HB 82 would abolish school district maintenance and operations property taxes by 2020 forcing the legislature to implement a new way to fund schools.
Bright said teacher salaries are the largest part of any school district’s budget and most districts have a starting teacher salary approaching $50,000 per year. The San Angelo ISD has approximately 950 teachers and a $1,000 pay increase would be almost $1 million.
The 30-day first-called special legislative session of the 85th Legislature begins Tuesday in Austin.