3-year contracts for Austin ISD workers approved by school board

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin School Board voted 5-4 late Monday to reinstate three-year employee contracts.

The decision will impact about 5,900 employees, including teachers, principals, bus drivers and custodians. Employees in their first, second and third year with AISD will continue to have one-year contracts.

Signs were passed out ahead of Monday's AISD board meeting. (Erin Cargile/KXAN)

Signs were passed out ahead of Monday’s AISD board meeting. (Erin Cargile/KXAN)

In the summer of 2011, Austin ISD went from three-year employee contracts to one-year due to financial uncertainty. The district eliminated around 1,000 positions.

The local teacher’s union, Education Austin, was behind the move to reinstate longer contracts.

“That’s a message from the top to teachers letting us know we’re valued and that we’re appreciated every day for the work we do for young people,” said Caroline Sweet, who teaches fourth grade at Metz Elementary.

Administrators do not believe it is a good time to commit to three years worth of salaries — due to an unbalanced budget and declining enrollment projections throughout the next three years.

The district also said the amount of money they have to give back to the state through recapture will be double throughout the next three years from $117 million to $241 million.

“Whether it’s a one-year contract or a three-year contract, make no mistake we love our teachers, we love our principals and our assistant principals,” said AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. “They’re on the front line every day trying to deliver for children and families.”

Monday night, she said the financial forecast for AISD looks very bleak.

“This is really about being able to manage the financial liabilities we are putting on the system that’s already fiscally fragile,” said Carstarphen.

Education Austin says three-year deals allow teachers to develop into better educators and that the district can actually save money by cutting teacher turnover.

KXAN checked with other Central Texas school districts and found the majority offer one-year contracts. They include: Eanes, Hutto, Manor, Pflugerville, Round Rock and San Marcos. Leander offers two-year contracts.

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