A central demand of our Respect Agenda is a real raise for all public school employees: a minimum $10,000 for teachers and certified staff and at least 15% for paraprofessionals and support staff.
Two bills that featured such raises — HB 1548 and HB 4586 — are gathering dust, waiting to be heard by the House Public Education Committee. The school finance bill that is moving is HB 100, which passed out of the committee last week.
As it’s currently written, there are real positives and real negatives to HB 100, authored by Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian). There is still time to improve this bill before it heads to the House floor for a vote, but we need all school employees and supporters to understand what the bill would do and how it should be changed.
Public Education Funding
The basic allotment — the base state funding for public education — drives everything for Texas public schools. The Legislature has left the basic allotment stagnant at $6,160 per student for the last four years.
If the basic allotment had been annually adjusted for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI), today, it would be more than $7,000 per student, and schools would have received almost $4 billion in additional state aid during the last two academic years.
HB 100 does include an increase to the basic allotment — of $90 per student. To truly reflect inflation, the basic allotment and the rising cost of serving students and employees, would need to increase by $1,511 per student in this budget biennium.
HB 100 does make two positive improvements to how Texas funds its schools:
- It creates a mechanism for automatic increases to the basic allotment to adjust for inflation every biennium.
- Transitions the state from attendance-based to average enrollment-based funding for public education.
If implemented fully, these measures have the potential to improve the amount of state funding available to public schools by leaps and bounds.
Increases to the basic allotment also automatically trigger raises for teachers and some staff (librarians, counselors, speech pathologists, and nurses). How large those raises are depends on how big the funding increase.
One good feature of HB 100 is that it increases the percentage of any new revenue — like a basic allotment increase — that districts are required to spend on raises from 30% to 50%.
But even with that change, a $90 increase to the basic allotment is not nearly enough to pay for meaningful raises for all Texas school employees. At best, it puts an extra $80 in your pocket each month and does nothing to dent Texas’ abysmal ranking on teacher pay, particularly for experienced teachers.
Possibly the worst part of HB 100 is a provision that states a school district is “not required to pay an employee … following a school year during which the district reviews the employee’s performance and finds the employee’s performance unsatisfactory.” Considering the ongoing teacher recruitment and retention crisis, this new threat of a pay cut based on an employee evaluation is just another example of the disrespect to the profession that teachers cite as a reason they consider leaving teaching.
Support Staff Pay
This is to say nothing of support staff because, quite literally, HB 100 says nothing about support staff. A provision that would have dedicated 25% of a basic allotment increase to give support staff raises was struck from the bill.
As union members, we believe an injury to one is an injury to all, and the neglect of support staff in this bill and in others like SB 9 is a slap in the face to the people who keep our schools running and our children healthy, safe, and fed.
HB 100 has the green light from the House Public Education Committee, but there is still time to fix it before it gets voted on by the full Texas House.
No matter your connection to our public schools, we need you to reach out to Rep. Ken King, the author of HB 100, and ask him to put money back in his bill for support staff.