Weatherford Democrat

April 22, 2013

AISD trustees considering pay raises


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

Aledo ISD trustees are considering raising employee salaries and additional pay adjustments for the next school year.

Consultant Ann Patton of the Texas Association of School Boards, contracted by the district to do a compensation analysis last fall, presented information to the board last week in a session before the regular meeting.

The presentation compared Aledo ISD salaries to those of 14 other school districts — showing Aledo to be below the 25th percentile — and offered a model for structuring an average five percent raise that would cost the district about $1 million to implement.

Patton recommended that trustees raise starting teacher pay to at least $45,000 — from $42,500 — and pay additional adjustments to administrators, teachers, nurses, librarians, clerical, paraprofessional and auxiliary staff.

Another recommendation eliminates the practice of paying both days and stipends for extracurricular activities — in favor of paying a single stipend. The report showed the district at 102 percent of the market average for athletics and at 121 percent of the market average for performing arts and academics, including band.

In preparing its teacher salary analysis, TASB consultants surveyed districts ranging in size from Springtown, with 3,500 students, to Fort Worth, with 83,800 students. The report showed Aledo, with 4,600 students, to be below the median for all teacher experience levels.

In the model provided by TASB, the average 5 percent raise was comprised of a 3.3 percent general pay increase, a 1.3 percent equity adjustment and a 0.4 percent increase for stipends.

The model assumed a salary of $46,000 for new teachers with no experience.

The biggest part of the $683,000 general pay increase was a $1,675 annual increase for all 297 teachers, registered nurses and librarians, which added up to $491,000.

The biggest part of the additional $265,000 equity adjustment — $174,000 — was directed toward the 165 teachers, librarians and nurses with zero to 15 years experience.

Increases ranged from 7 percent to 9 percent for teachers with zero to five years experience. Teachers in the 15- to 20-year range received an approximate 3 percent increase in the TASB model.

No increases were given to those above the maximum salary in their pay range — 13 employees — but officials discussed awarding a cash payment, so every employee would get something.

“We’re not anticipating a major cut from the legislature, so we felt like this was a great time to reward our employees,” Superintendent Dan Manning told the board. “They have not had a raise of this nature … In 2011 they got a step raise, which was not really a raise like this — a true market adjustment type raise.”

Manning said many school districts are doing the same thing.

“We’ve been very successful at recruiting teachers because of who we are, where we are, Aledo ISD,” CFO Earl Husfeld added, “but I think it will become more competitive, and people will start looking at where they can get the most dollars.”

Trustee Steve Bartley asked if the changes shown in the model would put Aledo in the 75th percentile for teacher salaries, and Husfield said it would be close, assuming other districts don’t also adjust upward.

“How long have we been below the 25th percentile,” trustee David Davis asked. “Have we ever been in the 75th percentile? Ten years ago, where were we on this?”

Board president Bobby Rigues said he thought the district has always been in the 50th percentile range, but the situation worsened in 2009 when the board adopted a more conservative budget to avoid laying off teachers.

Trustee Johnny Campbell said he thought the district has always been low, too, and said he would like to understand that. He asked for a comparison of the experience and retention levels of Aledo’s employees compared with those of the other districts surveyed.

Husfeld said the model’s projected $1 million cost would not affect next year’s budget and tax rate if less conservative estimates are used when budgeting for big-ticket items like utilities.

In addition, he said, preliminary figures indicate the district might receive an additional $200,000 from the state.

Commercial and residential property appraisal values might also increase by two to three percent, he said, increasing revenues.

The district will discuss the topic again in May, according to Board President Bobby Rigues, and might address it as an action item.