NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law one of lawmakers’ biggest achievements this year, a massive overhaul of Texas’ long-beleaguered school finance system.
The law should allow for an average of $4,000 in pay hikes for educators in the state of Texas.
“Obviously, it’s [exciting],” said Charles Zemanek, teacher at BQJ Elementary School. “You spend countless hours working, investing in these kids. Nobody in education really gets into it for the money; we invest ourselves into our kids. Sometimes, it is nice when others financially invest themselves in us.”
Zemanek said what makes the raise so valuable is that some teachers require a second job to make ends meet. A bump in pay could help bridge that gap, so instead of leaving the school day to head to another job, they can go home and better prepare themselves for the challenges that being a teacher can present.
“A lot of our teachers who might work two jobs can now, you pour your heart and soul into your kids and go home,” Zemanek explained. “Then you can home and spend time with your family.”
House Bill 3’s signing represented a capstone to state leaders’ focus on reforming school finance and property taxes since the beginning of the 2019 legislative session.
The spending will increase per-student base funding by about 20%. It includes money to give teachers raises, fund free full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds and reduces the amount of money wealthy districts must spend to subsidize poor districts through the state’s recapture program known as “Robin Hood.”
Zemanek added the investment will help keep the talented teachers who love what they do, but can’t afford to continue in the process.
“Everybody at some point has gone into a school system; whether it be public, private... or whatever it might be,” Zemanek said. “But everyone at one point has had a teacher that changed them for the better. So to have this money invested in us is a small way in helping us move forward and help us keep people in the profession longer.”