By Betsy Dolan
If you are an experienced teacher in Fort Bend ISD, chances are you are making slightly more money than your peers in other districts around the Houston area. But if you are a first year teacher in Fort Bend ISD, you might be making less.
Such are the findings of a Texas Association of School Board study presented to the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees. The board has approved adjusting the district’s pay structure to bring it more in line with neighboring districts.
Amy Campbell from TASB told the Trustees that experienced teachers in Fort Bend ISD are making 1-3% above average. But starting teacher salaries in the district are 2% below the median.
“Two years ago when pay was frozen, the starting salary was lowered and that may have impacted how you related to market”, Campbell said. “Right now you’re about $1,000 off the median.”
The Board has approved a 2% increase for all staff and increased the starting teacher salary to $46,750 for the 2013-2014 school year. Dr. Tracy Hoke, Fort Bend ISD’s Chief Financial Officer, said most school districts are looking at a 2-3% increase until the school budget issues are resolved in Austin.
“It is possible that we could get several million dollars more than we are expecting and we could come back to you in June and adjust this so we can remain competitive with our neighboring districts,” Hoke told the Trustees.
The study advised revamping the district’s large 53-step teacher pay scale. Campbell told the trustees that it is one of the widest in the state.
“It is important for your pay structure to reflect that you’re not hiring teachers who have 53 years of experience. 87% of your new hires this year had less than 10 years of experience.” Campbell said.
Campbell also advised the Trustees to take a look at teacher incentives and stipends citing other districts that only pay additional monies to new teachers who are secondary math and science, bi-lingual or certified in special education.
“Because you are paying 2-3% above the median range, we would encourage you to look at whether you have a need to add those stipends, especially if you are not having trouble retaining and recruiting. You are already paying a premium salary,” Campbell said.
In addition, the TASB study revealed that the higher end of the pay scales for Fort Bend ISD employees are 18% higher than neighboring districts.
TASB recommends phasing in changes to the pay structure over two years. Trustee Jenny Bailey expressed concerns that changes to pay grades could cause staff to worry their salary is decreasing.
“No one is getting a pay cut,” Hoke said and mentioned holding informational meetings to educate the staff on the pay structure changes.