Houston ISD Board of Trustees did not approve $1.2B for proposed budget

Discussing teacher pay raises dominated the Houston ISD board of trustees meeting Tuesday night. Although the meeting lasted more than three and a half hours, the board did not approve the proposed $2.1 billion dollar budget for the upcoming school year.

The motion to adopt the budget failed to pass in a 6-3 vote. With House Bill 3 signed into law, many have criticized the district for taking too long to come up with a proposal to implement teacher pay raises.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first time the board was presented with the compensation package numbers and the break down from the administration.

The Compensation Package included recommendations for a differentiated percentage raise for teachers’ salaries based on experience. For example, teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors and evaluation specialists with zero to three years of experience would receive a 3.5% raise, with an average of $1,839. Those with 4-5 years of experience would receive 4% raise, six to nine years with a 5%, 10-19 years with a 6%, 20-24 years with a 7%. The increment increases by 1% capping at 8% for those with 25 years of experience or more.

Board members were extremely critical of the breakdown, saying the percentage raises were unfair to hourly wage workers who don’t make much, and instead, unfairly favor those with high paying salaries..

Several board members also seemed to be in favor of raising the minimum wage from $12 to $15 an hour for support staff like custodial workers, as asked by a group called The Metropolitan Organization before Tuesday’s board meeting.

Overall, trustees were extremely skeptical of the recommended compensation packages and said they just couldn’t pass something without having more time to look over the numbers.

Trustee Jolanda Jones criticized the Texas Legislature for not giving school districts a big enough window to pass their budgets accordingly to HB3.

“Of course we want stuff in advance. I want stuff in advance. But it doesn’t matter if the administration came up with something 3 months ago, the second you fill it in with the now passed HB3 criteria, it doesn’t even work,” Jones said.

“I did not have this information. I cannot approve a budget that I cannot see the numbers on,” trustee Elizabeth Santos said.

“Make no mistake, we’re going to approve this budget by the end of the month. It’s going to be done,” trustee Diana Davila said.

The administration initially asked for the board to pass the budget as is and make amendments to the compensation packages later, but the board refused as evidenced by Tuesday’s vote.

The board has to pass a budget by June 30th as required by state law.

The districts new fiscal year begins annually on July 1st. HISD now has just a little over a week to pass the budget and make any amendments to the compensation packages & teacher raises.