By Judy Sheridan
Meeting in a regular board session May 20, Aledo ISD trustees voted 6-0 to name new board officers, boost pay for teachers and others and authorize five new high school positions.
Trustees took more than an hour in executive session to discuss the qualifications for board offices and select new officers, then voted to name former vice president Jay Stringer as president and David Davis as vice president. Johnny Campbell, who was absent, will continue as secretary.
Trustees also approved raising employee salaries and additional pay increases for the coming school year, lining up with a $15,000 compensation analysis the board commissioned from the Texas Association of School Boards.
The analysis compared Aledo ISD salaries to those of 14 other school districts, ranking the district 11th — below the 25th percentile — just above Azle, Weatherford and Springtown ISDs.
The new salary schedule, which includes raising starting teacher pay from $42,500 to $46,000, should put the district in the 50th percentile range, according to Superintendent Dan Manning. It will cost the district about $1 million to implement.
A representative from the United Educators Association attended the board session, urging trustees to raise teacher salaries by 3 percent to 4 percent based on a salary analysis comparing 32 school districts.
The biggest share of the approximate $683,000 general pay increase that trustees approved is a $1,675 annual increase for all teachers, registered nurses and librarians.
Most of the approximately $265,000 in equity adjustments are directed toward the teachers, nurses and librarians with zero to 15 years’ experience.
The salary increases range from 7 percent to 9 percent for teachers with zero to five years experience; teachers in the 15- to 20-year range will get an approximate 3 percent increase.
“We believe that it’s important for us to not only reward the great work that our teachers and our staff do, but also we want to remain competitive in the market,” Manning said.
“We looked at not just our teacher pay but also our administrators, our clerical staff, our paraprofessionals, our classroom aides, our maintenance staff — everybody in our district — in how their pay was in relationship to the market.”
Manning said TASB recommended the district develop pay structures with minimums and maximums so potential employees can understand how pay is organized, and that stipends be adjusted for coaches and teachers who sponsor activities.
“This is an across-the-board adjustment to bring not only a pay raise, but to make our entire pay system much more comprehensively understandable and to create what we would call internal equity,” he said.
Manning said the estimated million-dollar increase in pay would not translate to a million-dollar increase in the budget “because of the work we’ve done in the budget development process to whittle back some of those assumptions that make us over budget.”
“We feel like the way things have worked out with our conservative approach to our budget the last several years, our healthy fund balance and our healthy economic future, that it’s a good time to present this raise for our staff,” he said.
During the discussion, as he reviewed comparison information requested by Campbell at last month’s board meeting, Trustee Steve Bartley brought out Aledo’s low teacher turnover rate.
“Aledo ISD has the lowest turnover rate out of all that were compared at 5.6 percent,” he noted. “That’s pretty strong to me in saying that I don’t think we’re losing teachers because of a pay situation. It’s the lowest out of all of them … less than half of the average.”
Manning replied that the numbers were good but also skewed because they included retirements and reductions in force. He said the turnover rate was 9 percent or 10 percent in a typical year.
“The information the lady gave us from UEA has Kennedale ISD at number one across the board,” Bartley continued, “but they have one of the highest turnover rates at 19 percent.”
Trustee Bobby Rigues, who called the TASB review of the district’s pay scale a good value and long overdue, asked Bartley if, in his review of the data, he was saying that teachers did not need a pay raise.
“It’s just interesting to me that one of the top paying districts has one of the highest turnover rates,” Bartley said, “and we’ve got the lowest, and we’re paying less, so I’m just trying to correlate the two.”
“I believe that the shame is that we can’t pay our teachers more than what we’re paying today,” Rigues said.
“We’re going to make this increase and go up to the 50th percentile, only to have every district in the surrounding area do the same thing and, unfortunately, probably find ourselves in the position where we’re at 30 percent again.”
The board also approved five more positions at the Daniel Ninth Grade and Aledo High School campuses at a cost of approximately $217,500.
The staff request was based on increasing enrollment, Deputy Superintendent Lynn McKinney said, as well as a schedule review completed by campus principals.
The positions include an English teacher/girl’s coach and an instructional aide at Daniel Ninth Grade, as well as a Spanish teacher, to be shared with AHS. A science teacher and special education math teacher for AHS were also approved.
In March, the board approved 7.5 additional positions, at a cost of $420,000.
In other action the board voted to approve the procurement method for two much-discussed construction projects, to revise a policy to give parents more control over the release of student information to non-school entities and to file a waiver with the Texas Education Agency that would limit the number of foreign exchange students in order to reduce their impact on overall test scores.
Trustees selected the construction-manager-at-risk method as they choose a contractor to expand the Learning Center and construct a more secure high school entry.
The main advantage to the method is that it will allow the district to use the contractor’s expertise in fine-tuning the cost and design of the projects, Chief Financial Officer Earl Husfeld said.
Officials have asked Bartley to assist in the process.
School administrators plan to recommend the same contractor for both projects at the June 17 board meeting, and they hope to get the major work on the high school renovation — a smaller project — done before the next school year begins, according to Husfeld.
By Judy Sheridan
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