DEEP EAST TEXAS, TX (KTRE) - Texas Representative James White has filed a bill on behalf of educators, primarily teachers, asking fellow legislators to support the idea of setting a salary “floor” for school employees in order to address appropriate compensation.
Agreeing on teacher pay has long been an issue for both employees and the education system. Funding Texas schools is a shared responsibility between state and local property taxpayers. Using a set of formulas that take into consideration the particular makeup of each school district, the state determines how much total funding each school district is allowed to have. The state of Texas is paying 36 percent of the cost of public education while local school districts pay the remaining 64 percent, according to a new report from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
When addressing pay, the Texas Education Agency sets a state minimum, which school districts abide by. From there, districts set salary schedules for teachers which specifies how much raises are worth, and largely depends on a teacher’s experience.
White filed a bill on Monday which would set a salary “floor”, essentially a state standard, for educators which is tied into the state’s funding formula.
“Everyone talks about how indispensable our teachers are, but if you look at our funding patterns, look at our funding formula, none of it deals with teachers," said Rep. White. “So, the idea is that the state, in the formula... that the state should provide a floor for teacher salaries throughout the state of Texas.”
Because property values are rising in many parts of the state, school districts are increasingly able to meet their allowed funding levels with less help from state revenue. White’s bill would put the burden of compensation for full-time teachers, librarians, counselors, and school nurses back on the state.
“What this will do, if the state is guaranteeing this floor, then that should ensure or give our districts more of an opportunity to pay our teachers more,” White added.
White explained that a state standard may benefit teachers in rural districts the most; giving smaller schools in rural areas the ability to offer competitive salary means districts will be able to attract and retain talented educators.
“Public education is, by far, the best down payment we can make to ensure that fewer of our people remain, or find themselves locked up in criminal justice, right?” Rep. White said. “So, this is a very critical issue.”
If the measure is passed by Texas lawmakers, it would take effect Sept. 1, 2019. If you’d like to read White’s bill in its entirety, you can find it by following this link.