Austin ISD’s recommended $1.4 billion budget includes pay raises

FILE - Student writing (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Student writing (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District board of trustees have two big dollar decisions to dive into Monday night.

KXAN has been following the bond planning process that will likely result in a November school bond election. The committee trying to prioritize the district’s most immediate needs has been working on getting the wish list under $1 million. A preliminary bond presentation is on the board agenda, along with a presentation of the recommended FY 2018 budget.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz says it’s a budget he’s proud of that covers the district’s priorities — taking care of its people, even in tight financial times. Even though lawmakers have not finalized a budget, the district is not counting on help from the state capitol. Austin ISD expects to send $533,874,730 back to the state in FY 2018 for recapture compared to the $406,064,487 they sent back to the state for FY 2017.

The recommended $1.4 billion budget includes a 1.5 percent increase in base salaries for employees district wide, which equals an additional $8,550,000, and an increase to the district’s contribution to the employee health plan from $524.30 to $545.00 per employee, per month.

The salary increase was just worked out last week between the district and the teacher’s union, Education Austin.

“[The district’s] early projection was a 0 percent pay raise,” said Education Austin President Ken Zarifis. “We were able to get up to 1.5 [percent] and that’s not nearly enough, but it’s a whole lot more than zero and we just have to focus on not moving backwards.”

The proposed tax rate will remain the same as the previous year at $1.19 per $100 of taxable value.

The district is also planning for more than $2 million in projected decreases in funding for Title grants. KXAN has inquired about which programs could take a hit.

A public hearing on the recommended budget and tax rate is scheduled on June 19, 2017. The district says it will adopt the budget that same night.

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