On the evening of June 17, the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees approved the 2019–20 budget that includes a raise for every employee and is based on a decrease in the operating tax rate of homeowners.

RISD teachers will receive a stratified salary boost starting at 3.5% and climbing as high as 5% based on years of experience. The adopted budget also includes an increase in the starting salary for first-year teachers of 3.3% to $54,000.

“Our Board of Trustees deserves credit for crafting this thoughtful budget,” said RISD Superintendent, Dr. Jeannie Stone. “It strikes the right balance between taking care of our loyal teachers, helping us remain competitive with our peer districts, and also ensuring that raises are sustainable into the future given the uncertain nature of state funding sources.”

“Thank you as well to our legislators in Austin who made a budget like this possible while providing meaningful property tax relief to our RISD taxpayers.”

Chief Financial Officer David Pate told the Board of Trustees that the salary bumps meet all the requirements of House Bill 3, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law six days earlier. The new law provides $6.5 billion in additional state funding for public schools, with requirements that each district must use a specified portion for teacher compensation. In RISD’s case, the amount allocated in the Trustees’ adopted budget for teacher and “T-type” compensation increases was more than 4.5 times the state required amount. All other eligible employees will receive a 3.5% raise.

The budget is based on a lowered operating tax rate of 1.0684 for 2019, a reduction from the $1.17 rate in 2018 and another aspect of the recent sweeping change in property tax and school finance laws. The lower tax rate would decrease property taxes for the average-value home in RISD by approximately $157.

Pate said the specific rules associated with portions of the new state laws regarding compensation have yet to be written and because of that, Board members noted that the raises may actually end up at a higher level for some teachers. In 2018–19, the average RISD teacher salary was approximately $2,000 higher than the average teacher salary across Texas.

Trustee Kim Caston said a sustainable compensation structure was at the forefront of adoption of this 2019–20 budget. Caston also lauded the board for retaining some flexibility within the adopted budget because there are still questions regarding exactly how the state is going to pay for the increased school funding mandates within House Bill 3.

“This board has always been intentional and flexible,” Caston said “We want to be competitive so this is a place where people want to unpack their bags and stay.”

Trustees debated the insertion of wording that would allow the Board to consider awarding an experience stipend later in the school year for teachers and staff based on the number of years of service in the district. However, the idea was not part of the original budget as proposed, and the budget eventually passed without the additional language.

RISD teachers, nurses, counselors, and library information technology educators will receive the 2019–20 salary increase as follows:

Years of Service Raise
1 to 5 years — 3.5%

6 to 10 year s— 3.85%

11 to 15 years — 4.20%

16 to 20 years — 4.60%

21 or more years — 5.00%

Raises take effect with the first paychecks of the new contract year, which is September for teachers.

Trustees Approve Raises For Teachers, Set Stage For Lower Tax Rate was originally published in Richardson ISD Newsdesk on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.