Note: The Board of Trustees approved the 2022–23 compensation plan at the May 19 meeting. Read more
On Thursday, May 19, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees is considering approval of the district’s 2022–23 compensation plan. To help provide clarity and understanding, the district held a series of listening sessions. Staff had the opportunity to listen to a brief presentation from Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., followed by a Q&A session. In order to reach more staff members, we wanted to provide a list of frequently asked questions. Below are some of the questions and feedback that came up throughout all three of our listening session opportunities.
Questions & Feedback
During the Board meeting, Trustees will consider a 5%-at-midpoint raise for teachers, counselors and nurses and a 4%-at-midpoint raise for all other staff, along with whether or not a portion of these raises are contingent upon successfully passing a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE) in November 2022.
If the board goes the contingent route can you explain the pay process? Do employees get the full amount or just until December?
- Under the contingent proposal, ALL employees would see at least a 2%-at-midpoint increase in their pay at the start of the 2022–23 school year.
For the additional 3% increase for teachers, nurses and counselors (a total of 5%) and the additional 2% for all other staff (a total of 4%) if the VATRE passes in November 2022, employees would receive this as a lump-sum payment in December 2022 and salaries would increase by the combined raise amount – 5% for teachers, nurses and counselors and 4% for all other staff – for the rest of the 2022–23 school year.
Teachers who are at 20-plus years are some of your most dedicated teachers. We have given countless hours away from our families working hours upon hours outside of the school day. We mentor new teachers and have valuable experience. We feel very under appreciated because while new teachers continue to get higher and higher raises, we have been close to stagnant. This impacts our retirement as well. You must find a way to build in better compensation for those with 20 years or more experience. What are your plans?
- All teachers receive the same dollar amount raise. Even though there are various dollar amounts between each year of experience on the hiring scale, the actual dollar increase to each eligible current/returning teacher is the same (assuming a 187-day calendar). LISD adopted this approach several years ago based on feedback from teachers as well as aligning raises with best practices.It ensures that in years where an increase is approved by the board, teachers with various years of experience are not receiving unequal increases in that year. The published scales are used as “hiring scales” and are rebuilt each year after the Board approves raises.
For teachers, will we see the raise on what we are currently making or based on our years of service?
- All current and returning teachers receive the same dollar amount raise, and this amount does not vary teacher to teacher based on years of service. To calculate this dollar amount, the approved raise percentage is applied to the midpoint of the teacher scale, which would result in $2,858 at the currently proposed raise of 5% for teachers. Each current and returning teacher would receive the same $2,858 amount.
For planning purposes, the salary steps we are currently at, will we get a step increase first or will we stay where we are on the scale?
- We do a midpoint for teachers as well as rebuild the scale each year to adjust the steps accordingly. Under the proposed compensation plan, teachers will receive a 2% amount of $1,143. If the VATRE passes, an additional 3% would add $1,715 for a total of $2,858.
You mentioned $15 minimum wage and laddering the related scales. Please explain what this means.
- As we studied a $15/hr minimum rate of pay, we made sure that the pay grades and jobs above the $15/hr minimum pay range still had some differences in pay. Employees who are interested in applying and moving along a career path into higher levels of jobs will see higher ranges of pay in 2022-23, even after the lowest grade on the scale has a $15/hr minimum rate of pay.
To illustrate how this hourly pay rate adjustment impacts different pay grades throughout the system, let’s use the Custodial Services department as an example:
- The position of Day Custodian in the Auxiliary Grade 1 scale would see a minimum-floor increase from $11.58/hour to $15/hour.
- The Night Custodian position in Auxiliary Grade 2 would see a minimum-floor increase from $12.75/hour to $15.75/hour.
- The Floater Custodian position in Auxiliary Grade 3 would see a minimum-floor increase from $14.40/hour to $16.54/hour.
- The Elementary Lead Custodian position in Auxiliary Grade 4 would see a minimum-floor increase from $16.20/hour to $17.37/hour.
Why do hourly employees always receive less of a raise than salary employees?
- Hourly employees have historically received the same amount as other non-teaching staff. The only time there have been differences in the percent of raises is when teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses receive a higher percentage than all other employees.
- It is worth noting that the current proposed compensation plan includes a larger increase for many of our hourly employees with the establishment of the $15/hr minimum rate of pay. For example, jobs in Grade 1 of the Office Paraprofessional scales are moving approximately 15% and Grade 2 at approximately 10%, much higher than the proposed 4% to salaried exempt employees this year.
We have to sign our contracts by May 20. If we don’t know the results of our compensation until November, will we be penalized if we have to resign before the end of the year?
- The Board will vote on the compensation plan on Thursday, May 19. You will know what was approved that night. There is a “penalty free resignation” day of July 3. You can resign without any penalty on or before that day. Your resignation, if mailed, must be postmarked by July 3, 2022.
For administrators, I find this percentage-of–midpoint language very confusing and unclear when it comes to determining our raise amounts. Is there a way that if someone other than teachers really wanted to understand their salary and what a 4% raise might actually be that we would reach out to someone specifically in HR that could take the time to explain it to us? With teacher salary scales and years of experience, it seems easier to understand, BUT with all this behind the scenes, the % of midpoint is what you might get and it seems very confusing on purpose.
- It probably seems a bit more straightforward when looking at the Teacher Hiring Scale because it reflects a 187 calendar. The math behind the percentage-of-midpoint approach is the same for Administrative/Professional scales, but it is calculated and shown in the compensation plan as a daily rate. This is because within the many Administrative/Professional scales, there are jobs with very different duty calendars, sometimes in the same grade.
- If you take, for example, an Elementary Assistant Principal job’s current midpoint of $72,164 on a 207-day calendar: The current midpoint daily rate is $348.62/day. A 4% of midpoint increase to all eligible Elementary Assistant Principals is a uniform increase of $13.94/day. This per-day increase can then be used to calculate a $2,886 increase for eligible employees in the Elementary Assistant Principal job on a 207-calendar. ($13.94 per day multiplied by 207 days equals $2,886)
How are other surrounding districts able to do more raises? And don’t they have to pay into recapture as well?
- Every school district in Texas is facing a unique set of circumstances and different challenges when it comes to school finance. Foundational problems in the state’s school finance formulas result in a problem for Texas school districts that can truly only be resolved legislatively at the state level.
Current recommendations are based on the market within which Leander ISD competes for talent. With regards to recapture, Leander ISD is facing a combination of changing funding formulas made possible through House Bill 3 and historic appraisal values. A VATRE would enable the district to generate more funding for operations which means the district can give larger pay increases.
How much would it save the district to not offer a 4% increase to administrators next year? Do we know the savings?
- The cost of the 4%-of-midpoint increase to administrative/professional scale (exempt, non0teaching, nursing, counseling) is $1.85 million, broken out as follows:
- District Administrator, Professional scale: $692,000
- Campus Administrator, Professional scale: $645,000
- Operational Services: $62,000
- Licensed Professional Scale: $200,000
- Information Technology Scale: $251,000
What is your plan to address teacher retention? As you all know, we are looking at other districts and their salary schedule. I am single, and as you know rent is going up. It’s hard to even downsize to a studio. It is becoming difficult to live where we work. What is your plan to stay competitive with those districts?
- We have been closely watching the market, as well, and the current 5% of midpoint across-the-board increase would position teacher pay in LISD competitive in the market.
I am hoping the board and every one at Central [Admin] understand the state of teacher retention. We have a third of some departments leaving the school. I have my students ask me if I am leaving, too. I have my family tell me to leave as well. I love my students. With the cost of living it is becoming harder and harder to stay in the area.
In looking at the pay increases, what has been looked at regarding the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) and how we can keep teachers in the classroom?
- We have looked at TIA and our culture does not align with this model.
What is the district doing to better inform voters of the VATRE when the language on the ballot states the VATRE is a tax increase?
- We believe educating the public about a VATRE means ensuring they have a firm understanding of our financial situation. Over the past few months, we have worked with principals to help educate campus staff. In the coming days, we are launching a website with a comprehensive look at School Finance in three parts: the basics, the district’s deficit and the upcoming elections. As a part of this online resource, we included the ballot language. Furthermore, we will be doing extensive in-person education throughout the community if the board decides to call the VATRE in August.
Does the VATRE mean that we also have a tax increase as taxpayers?
- The budget assumptions include increasing the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) tax rate by 9 pennies and decreasing the Interest & Sinking (I&S) tax rate by an even larger amount of more than 13.5 pennies. Combined with compression of the M&O rate as required by the state, this results in an overall tax rate reduction by more than 6 cents. However, due to the historic rise in property values, property owners will see a rise in appraisal values, and therefore, property tax bills even with a reduced rate. The reduced rate lessens the amount of increase due to higher appraised values.