Fort Bend ISD raises teacher and staff salaries; adds over 450 new positions
By Betsy Dolan
The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees approved a $47.1 million plan that will boost starting teacher salaries, give teachers and staff raises and add over 450 new positions for the 2014-2015 school year.
The move comes as the district strives to become more competitive with surrounding school districts in the Houston metro area and to prevent high turnover from teachers with less than 10 years of experience.
Starting teacher salaries will jump to $50,000 and experienced teachers will see a percentage increase on the teacher pay scale ranging from 4% to 8.6%.
Teacher salaries will go up between $2,214 to $4,147 making the district a salary leader for teachers with 14 years of experience, according to Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett.
“We worked to level the steps and make it affordable,” said Superintendent Charles Dupre. “We got to level 16 but we couldn’t go all the way to the top this year. Our goal is to correct a few more steps every year.”
But Fort Bend Employees Federation President Karrie Washenfelder hoped the district would institute a rolling set of pay raises where teachers in different pay brackets get a raise each year over a five year period.
“What my teachers have asked me to present to the board is that we give pay raises across the board–not a percentage–a set amount,” Washenfelder said. “Whatever it takes to bring those young teachers to $50,000, we should give to everyone in this district–a flat pay raise across the board.”
Trustee Susan Hohnbaum took issue with a new increase in stipends for bi-lingual teachers from $3,000 to $4,000 per year stating that she has heard that some of the teachers are not as proficient in English as they should be and questioned why all bi-lingual teachers would be getting the stipend and not just the new hires.
District staff said the increased stipends were necessary in a highly competitive market to attract and retain the best bi-lingual teachers.
“If we bring in qualified teachers who are equally strong in English and in Spanish, then we’re building our base of teachers,” said Dupre. “Then, as we transition the program, we’ll just have to determine what we’re going to need to fill in gaps. But if we don’t take proactive measures now to fill the positions, we’re going to get further and further behind while other districts are taking the best talent out there.”
Many other stipends such as fine arts and athletics will increase from $50 to $1,080 per year. Non-teaching employees will see a 4% mid-point salary increase.
The BOT also approved adding 459.5 new full-time positions for the next school year which includes 242 new teachers; 137 campus support staff; 57 non-campus positions and 23 other positions that are federally funded for child nutrition and special education. The new hires will, in part, allow the district to staff two police officers, two nurses or LVN’s and one IT technician at every high school.
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