SAN BENITO — San Benito school district teachers have been paid below market value for some time.
A recent study conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards shed some interesting light on a topic that has been of concern for school officials for many years.
That topic is teacher pay, or more importantly, how the district’s current pay system is outdated and has been for some time.
Before delving into the details, Luz Cadena, a senior compensation consultant, said the main goal of a sound pay system for a district is to attract and maintain solid talent.
After comparing teacher pay to 18 other districts in the Rio Grande Valley, in what Cadena called a market comparison, she determined San Benito landed at third lowest in teacher pay with an average at $47,803.
According to that survey, Brownsville was at the bottom for paying their teachers the least and La Joya ISD was at the top for paying a little more than the median teacher pay, which is about $50,000.
Board member Arnold Padilla noted that there is a major reason as to why teacher pay has not increased over the past few years.
“We held back from giving raises over the last two years to get the budget under control,” Padilla said.
“We understand that we were low to start but I know that the numbers jump off the page and make it look really bad from the perspective of a teacher. But please keep in mind that whole objective was to get the budget under control to get to today and go back and potentially fix it.”
In 2016-2017 teacher pay was frozen by the district, leaving the pay schedule as it was.
“The resulting action was, teachers that the district was hiring were placed based on their experience. As new teachers were being replaced, their salary resulted in being higher than the continuing teachers as they moved to other salary levels because the pay was frozen,” Cadena said. “We are addressing that.”
To combat this issue, Cadena suggested three options to repair what she said is a fixable problem.
Option one, a proposed 5 percent increase for teachers would be most economical for the district, Cadena said.
As it stands, the current amount for payroll within the budget is about $63 million. That’s 73 percent of the budget going to payroll, not including benefits.
If the district were to adopt the 5 percent increase, it would cost about $3.2 million. This would give pay increases to all areas of the district including teachers, librarians, nurses, administration, clerical, technical and auxiliary.
A bulk of the increases, approximately $1.8 million, would mainly go to teachers, librarians and nurses.
At the end of the presentation Superintendent Dr. Adrian Vega urged all board members to process the information.
Before a major decision can be made on whether to adopt a pay increase, the board will have to evaluate their own resources, go through a finance committee and then put it to a vote during a future school board meeting.
Key issues of concern
– District froze teacher pay in 2016-2017.
– Teacher pay is not competitive with market and is below median pay levels.
-Pay structures have not been maintained or adjusted appropriately.
– Value of days for extracurricular assignments is not consistently applied
– Athletic stipend schedule does not reflect the extra days paid for coaching assignments.
– Create new pay structures that align with market
– Provide pay increases to teachers
– Provide target market equity adjustments
– Adjust duty calendar
– Review job titles
– Adjust extracurricular stipends that are below market in a targeted manner to bring low stipends to competitive rates.