CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Legislation that provides funds for teacher pay raises was signed into law by the governor on June 11.
And today, the Corpus Christi Independent School District school board held its first public discussion on raises for its teachers and other district employees.
House Bill 3 was at the forefront of the 86th state legislature, which aims to reform the state's school finance system over the course of the next several years.
However, the legislature left the final decision to individual districts.
The local teachers’ unions say the proposed pay raises still aren't enough.
A 4 percent raise for teachers with more than five years of experience and a 3.5 percent raise for teachers with less than five years of experience.
“This is what we have as a proposal to maintain a balanced budget,” CCISD Superintendent Dr. Roland Hernandez said.
Local teachers unions believe there is more wiggle room in the district's budget to increase teacher salaries.
“They want to put more lighting at Cabaniss Field in that new parking lot they built. And my question is well, why didn't they include the lighting when they passed the bond? That doesn't make sense to me,” said Dr. Nancy Vera of the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.
Some school board members agree.
“And if there are other places that we can actually finance more than 4 percent,” board secretary Alice Upshaw Hawkins said. “So, that's my request.”
Other trustees say the district’s teachers are deserving of bigger raises.
“They have so many hardships,” trustee Dr. Tony Diaz said. “They are just struggling. I'm totally committed to this and always have been, so as we work through this, I hope we will think about that.”
Hernandez says the terms of this proposal are not set in stone.
“That was really just a number that we plugged in there,” Hernandez said. “We wanted to give an emphasis on teachers, so we had all teachers in the category and looked at the legislative bill which said teachers with six years or more need to be prioritized.
“That's not to say that's the only place it can be is at 4 (percent).”
Vera added that the ideal raise for veteran teachers would be a 7 percent across-the-board increase. across the board.
District officials say that board members will vote on a final proposal during an Aug. 26 meeting before approving the school district's budget.