Educator Salary Increases Around Corpus Christi: Why Some Get More and Some Get Shafted


Matt Briscoe
Managing Editor/Publisher 
Southside Light 
Contact Matt Briscoe

Corpus Christi—At the end of the state’s 86th Texas Legislature lawmakers praised the passage of House Bill 3 and its benefits to public education in Texas. The bill ended up allocating some $11.6 billion to reform the way public school districts are funded. However, it isn’t all candy and nuts just yet as districts around the state struggle with budgetary implications of the bill. 

While some school districts are still grappling with how much of a pay raise their educators will receive this year, others have taken the state intended course and levied their teachers salary increases of upwards to ten percent. 

So Where Did The $5,000 Pay Raises Go? 

The answer, as is the case with most Austin based legislation really isn’t that simple. The real truth is that school districts across Texas just do not know how to interpret exactly how much money is coming from the state and how they are supposed to implement properly intended raises. However, teachers in Texas want what they were promised by state Republican leaders and a marginal 3-6% cost of living adjustment is just not acceptable to most. 

Educators in Texas were promised $5,000 pay raises across the board and in the end lawmakers on both sides of the isle promoted that to be the case. However, lawmakers changed the language in the $11.5 billion HB 3 to allow individual districts to decide how much those raises would be. According to most educators around the state, there lies the problem. 

“Teachers and other employees are just going to have to get with their districts and get that information from them and figure out how much money they're really getting, and ask them to give a reasonable amount for pay raises,” says Lonnie Hollingsworth, general counsel to the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

“It's clear that the Legislature intended for a lot of that money, or at least a right percentage of it, to be spent on teacher salary increases, and I think the districts should go ahead and do those increases.”

But there lies another problem—trusting district school boards to do the right thing. 

Gregory-Portland ISD announced earlier this month that a teacher with a bachelor's degree and 5 years tenure would earn $56,824 under the 2019-2020 fiscal budget. Alice ISD, which is considered by many to be a cash strapped district even measured up and gave their teachers a 10% raise. The same teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 5 years tenure would earn exactly $45,000. 

The Corpus Christi ISD Board did not approve any salary increases for the 2018-19 school year and educators there are hoping that this year will be different. While staff there did receive credit for a year of experience, but their salaries did not increase. The Board of Trustees at CCISD has not directly indicated if they plan to make a move towards fulfilling state lawmakers requests. 

Flour Bluff ISD has not returned our request regarding a potential salary adjustment for 2019-2020 either. Their budget, like CCISD is still under consideration by the Board of Trustees. However, educators in Flour Bluff have said that while any increase is better than none, they are not holding their breath for a significant change as seen in places like Gregory-Portland and Alice. In fact, most educators in Flour Bluff that were willing to speak have indicated that a 3% increase is what they are expecting—far below what they were promised by state level lawmakers. 

When it comes to salary increases for teachers districts were never going to be required to fully live up to the promise. In fact, according to a very complicated mathematical formula, district’s who choose to not do right by their staff have a way out. 

Let’s say that a school board really wants to reimplement the old methodology of vocational studies that is currently being serviced by Texas community college systems and districts. There is nothing saying that the district can’t use at least part of HB 3 money to do just that while limiting salary increases for educators and staff. 

The TEA did provide district’s guidance on how to handle the issue of salary increases. However, many districts (including some right here in the Corpus Christi area) are now redoing those calculations themselves — and some are coming up with vastly different numbers than what educators were initially promised. That could pose a problem for teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, since under HB 3, school districts are supposed to use a good portion of the new money on those employees’ raises and benefits.

I’m the end, there is not yet an official statewide summary on what compensation packages look like across school districts, but eventually districts will be required to report that information to the Legislature—and that should have some boards concerned. In the interim, the state has been providing guidance on how to interpret the new law through videos and PowerPoint presentations.

It’s complex and difficult no matter how you cut it, but in the end when it is left up to the districts, it does seem that we circle right back to where the problems end up—back at the drawing board with very little results. 

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