PREMONT, Texas — Premont Independent School District has experienced a lot of recent success, from being named a finalist for a national Rural Tech Project, or bringing upgrades to the high school building.
The recent success is, in part, a reason for a growth in student enrollment, and that student population growth has brought more state funding to the district.
On Monday, the Premont ISD school board voted to raise the starting salary of teachers in the district to $50,000.
“Fortunately, with our tremendous enrollment growth, we have more money that we can invest back in our teachers. When you invest in teachers, you’re really helping kids,” said Premont Superintendent Steve VanMatre.
Before Monday, the starting salary for Premont teachers was $34,000, which VanMatre said is just above the state minimum salary.
New teachers are not the only ones who will benefit from the pay increase, as all teachers who were below $50,000 will get bumped up to it. In fact, every teacher will receive a raise. Additionally, new teachers will receive a $5,000 signing bonus, and returning teachers will receive a $5,000 retention bonus.
“We really think we’ve positioned ourselves now to attract the absolute best in our region to join some of the absolute best in the region, and have a really attractive team for our students in the Premont community,” VanMatre said.
One teacher who is excited about the pay increase is Christopher Ruiz, a middle school and high school science teacher, who just welcomed a new member to his family.
“Me and my fiancé just had a baby three months ago, so that financial security and support is huge,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz graduated from Premont High School in 2011. Around that time, the district had its struggles, nearly having to close down due to low enrollment numbers. He said the transformation he saw in the district while he was in college made him want to come back to teach there.
“When I first started going to college, it wasn’t very intriguing for me to come back here. But, as I finished my college degree, and I saw the increase that Premont ISD was doing, it was very intriguing for me to come back at that point,” Ruiz said.
VanMatre said the increase in pay will ultimately benefit the students, because a more competitive salary means more people want to work at the district, which allows for more people to choose from to educate the children.
“This will give us the opportunity to select, what we feel, is a really good match for our kids, our current faculty, and the new people coming in,” he said. “We can compete, not only through compensation, but also through the culture that we’ve worked hard to develop here. This is a really good place to work.”