San Marcos CISD approves pay raises

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After months of advocating for salary increases for San Marcos CISD employees, the Texas State Teachers Association got most of what it wanted.

At a meeting June 29 the SMCISD board of trustees unanimously agreed to provide a 3.8 percent raise to teachers, nurses and librarians; a 5 percent raise for hourly employees; and a 2.5 percent raise for administrative employees. The district also agreed to fully fund the most basic insurance plan for district employees at a cost of $341 per month.

“This was the first time I feel like the board really listened to the employees, and they went above and beyond.”

The vote comes after the board earlier in June voted to lower class sizes to 22:1 with the hope of increasing student engagement.

“I’m ecstatic,” TSTA President Susan Seaton said. “It helps our employees and the fact that our hourly employees got the full 5 percent just warms my heart. This was the first time I feel like the board really listened to the employees, and they went above and beyond.”

An initial motion by trustee Miguel Arredondo to increase salaries by 5 percent across the board failed with a 3-4 vote. Arredondo and trustees Lupe Costilla and Anne Halsey voted in favor of the increase.

Trustee John McGlothlin said he was concerned the district could not afford the 5 percent increase. At the board’s regular meeting in June trustees agreed to request properties within the district that were damaged by floods be reappraised to potentially save flood victims money on property taxes. That vote could also put a dent in the district’s projected revenues, McGlothlin said.

McGlothlin also said he was concerned that if the board provided the 5 percent salary increase it would cripple their ability to implement new ideas, such as lower class sizes, in the future.

The salary and insurance increases will put the district’s total payroll expense for the 2015-16 school year at about $52.56 million, which is about $3.6 million higher than the 2014-15 school year.

“I see any type of substantial pay raise as an investment in staff and saying, ‘We’re going to be asking more of you. If we cut this check, whatever that percentage might be, we’re going to come to you with higher expectations,’” Arredondo said. “Not just from teachers, but from administrators and support staff.”

Seaton said she believes teachers at the district already work as hard as they can, but the salary increases will create a more positive workplace, which will improve performance.

“Our teachers feel valued,” she said. “When they come back to school it’s going to make a difference in their life. It’s going to be different for the lives of their own kids and their own families. We couldn’t be happier.”