AP NEWS

Senate unanimously passed bill giving teachers $5,000 pay hike

March 5, 2019

Legislation which could result in a $5,000 pay raise has unanimously passed the full Texas Senate and will next head to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Bill 3 passed on Monday. It was the first bill passed in the Senate this legislative session.

“I congratulate Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and the Texas Senate for unanimously passing this critical legislation to provide a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for Texas teachers,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a news release Monday evening. “Our productive economy has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accomplish school finance reform and the nearly $4 billion investment to increase teacher pay across-the-board is the first step in accomplishing that goal. Senate Bill 3, along with Senate Bill 4, school finance reform and Senate Bill 12, the Retired Teachers’ Security Act, will help us recruit and retain the best teachers in our public schools, which is key to improving student outcomes.”

Getting qualified teachers and retaining them are paramount to student success.

“During my years on the Senate Education Committee, including as chairman in the 2013 session, before I became lieutenant governor, I reviewed a great deal of research on how to improve student outcomes in public schools,” Patrick said. “All the data points to the same thing — aside from a parent, nothing has more impact on the future success of a child than a teacher. I am very proud that Senate Bill 3 is the first bill the Texas Senate has passed this legislative session.”

Starting with the 2019-20 school year in August, public school teachers would get a bump in pay by $5,000, according to Senate Bill 3. The legislation was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, Feb. 25.

In the daily Senate Journal, Bill co-author Sen. Jose Rodriguez said, “While this pay raise will not solve all of the issues and inequities in our public school system, it is an important step in the right direction. Also, as the first bill to be considered and voted out of the Texas Senate, it shows we are focused on the priorities that are important to all Texans across the state rather than the partisan, divisive issues that characterized much of the 2017 legislative sessions.”

All 31 senators voted in favor of the legislation.

“We need to provide this salary in order to retain our teachers in our classrooms, and to attract new teachers to the profession,” said Nelson, Committee Chair and bill author, following her committee’s passage of the bill. “We’ve got to make sure we attract the best and the brightest, and we’ve got to keep them.”

The Texas Education Agency reports that the current minimum a full-time public school teacher may be paid is $28,080 for a 10-month contract in the first year of teaching. That would be equivalent to $13.50 per hour assuming a 40-hour work week over 52 weeks. A teacher with 20 years or more experience is currently paid a minimum of $45,510.

However, according to State Education Commissioner Mike Morath the most teachers in Texas are paid between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, including additional duty pay above base salary. The average teacher starts out at $47,500 per year.

According to the news release, the proposed “Senate budget has $3.7 billion set aside to pay for the salary increase, but that price tag will go up a little more after it was changed to ensure the state covers increased pension costs.”

Teacher retirement benefits are based on an average of the five highest-paid years in an educator’s career, a statewide increase like the one proposed would increase the total cost of teacher pensions by about $240 million per year over the next two years.

According to figures posted on their individual websites, salaries for area school districts include:

Katy ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $53,000. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $61,830.

Spring Branch ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $54,000. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $62,150.

Fort Bend ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $53,000. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $63,000.

Stafford MSD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $51,000. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $60,600.

Lamar CISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $54,500. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $63,750.

Houston ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $52,530. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $59,956.

Needville ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $50,500. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $62,100.

Cypress Fairbanks ISD pays new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience a minimum of $54,000. A teacher with 20 years of experience earns a minimum of $64,658.

The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

rkent@hcnonline.com