PATTONVILLE — Prairiland ISD teachers will receive as much as a $10,000 raise, even as district taxpayers will see a 7-cent decrease in their property tax rate next year. The financial moves are a result of action taken earlier this year by state lawmakers and by Prairiland trustees at a Monday meeting.
After no one appeared at a public hearing, trustees approved a $12.570 million budget, up $879,857 from last year’s budget of $11.690 million. Much of the increase came from the $756,905 expected from the state to cover required teacher pay increases. Trustees set a 97-cent per $100 valuation maintenance and operations tax rate for 2020, keeping the interest and sinking rate at 12.95 cents for a total $1.0995 tax rate, down 7 cents from the 2019 tax rate of $1.1695.
State lawmakers compressed the maintenance tax rate statewide with a promise to make districts whole, and increased minimum pay for teachers on a 20-step scale ranging from $4,860 for beginning teachers to $9,000 for teachers with 20 years or more experience. Beginning teacher pay increases from $28,800 to $33,660 and top teacher pay goes from $45,510 to $54,540. All other school employees are to receive a 10% increase.
“I think it is important we give raises to teachers, who are the backbone of our school district,” Superintendent Jeff Ballard said. “But cooks, custodians, aides, secretaries and everybody deserves a piece of the pie.”
Prairiland teachers will receive $1,000 above base pay, down from $3,000 received last year. All employees receive a $750 incentive bonus in November.
“I wanted to give the $3,000, but we can’t afford it,” Ballard said, adding he realized that after going over numbers with business manager Kay Klein, who has been with the district for the past seven years and in the school finance business for 27 years.
Klein noted there is roughly a $400,000 excess in the 2019-20 budget trustees passed unanimously, however, she said it would be sometime in spring 2021 before all the implications of this past legislative session are known.
“I feel comfortable with $1,000, which lowers the excess to under $300,000,” Klein said. “TEA (Texas Education Agency) is still figuring out how to implement lawmaker intent, and it’s hard to project what is going to happen when you have all those moving parts. After all the numbers are in maybe we can add another $1,000 next year.”
After passing the budget, trustees approved the above-base teacher pay to be included as a budget amendment at a July 29 meeting.