Every teacher in Houston ISD will receive a raise of at least 3.5 percent next school year.
Yet, it still appears that more teachers than usual are leaving the district this summer.
An official with the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT), the largest union representing HISD teachers, said Tuesday that at least 122 teachers have left the union since the beginning of June and in most cases are also leaving the largest public school district in the state. Andy Dewey, the executive vice president for HFT, said that figure is based on teachers opting out of automatic bank drafts for their union dues and that the number of teachers fleeing HISD this summer could be higher.
“The number of people leaving the district were higher in June than in previous years,” Dewey said. “Some have flat-out told us they’re leaving because of the pay.”
Questions about teacher attrition that were emailed Tuesday to the HISD Press Office as well as school board trustees Elizabeth Santos and Rhonda Skillern-Jones – who represent the schools in the area – were not answered as of press time Wednesday.
On June 27, HISD trustees approved a 2019-20 budget that included teacher pay raises mandated by school-finance reform in the Texas Legislature. District officials have said funds allocated through House Bill 3 are expected to result in a $135 million windfall for HISD, which will use that money to provide raises to most of its employees.
Teachers, full-time counselors, full-time nurses, full-time librarians and other educational professionals will get raises ranging from 3.5 percent to 8 percent based on years of experience in HISD. Trustees passed a budget that also will increase the district’s minimum wage from $12 per hour to $14 and the minimum wage for bus drivers to $18 per hour.
The board also approved an amendment to provide no raises for staff earning more than $75,000 per year. Instead, those employees will receive a one-time bonus of $1,000 and two extra vacation days.
Dewey said HFT, which represents about 6,300 HISD teachers and other district employees, is “pleased” about the increases in compensation and that employee health insurance premiums will not increase. Still, he said the raises aren’t enough compared to the pay offered by other school districts in the Houston area.
“The overall compensation plan is still weaker than the school districts around us,” Dewey said. “They are at the bottom.”
Dewey described HISD as the “Triple-A” among area school districts, saying they have a habit of hiring new teachers, training them up and then allowing them to leave for other, higher-paying districts. He said many HISD teachers live outside the district’s attendance boundaries because they cannot afford to live within them.
“It’s just idiotic on the part of HISD to let their teachers get way so easily,” Dewey said.
How many teachers end up leaving the district before the start of next school year remains to be seen. Texas teachers can opt out of their annual contracts up until 45 days before the start of classes, and July 12 is the resignation deadline for HISD.
In the meantime, HISD administrators are still working through the finer details of the budget approved last week by trustees. Dewey said the union has not yet seen a complete salary schedule for 2019-20.
“We’ll see where we are in August,” Dewey said. “We’ll see what kind of vacancies exist on July 12 and how the district manages to fill them.”