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LA-JOYA-LOGOLA JOYA – Amid school budget strains and cuts, La Joya Independent School District (LJISD) has found the means to give its employees a raise and supplemental stipend pay. These two items are costing the district $6 million. The district approved the raise and stipend during a May 28 special meeting.

At the special meeting, the board approved a $400 supplemental retention stipend for all employees, with the stipulation that the employee must come back to the school district next year. The stipend pay will cost the district approximately $1.6 million.

The board also approved raises for all teachers, administrators and auxiliary staff. Next year, teachers will receive $1,200 more. Hourly employees will receive a 50-cent increase. Non-teaching professionals will receive a two percent pay increase. The raises will cost the district approximately $4.4 million.

The stipend and raise was budgeted from the general fund and other budget sources.

Some school districts have forgone raises in the past few years because of budget constraints. Mission Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) has not handed out pay raises for the past two years. MCISD is looking at a possible salary increase for next school year.

MCISD’s minimum pay for 187 days of work is $41,300. This pay is for teachers, nurses, academic strategists, athletic trainers, speech therapists, pre-k early start grant recruiter and autism, testing, gear-up and pre-k early start grant strategists. A $1,250 supplement is given for a master’s or higher degree for school program professional salary employees.

Sharyland Independent School District (SISD) did give employees a raise or stipend the past two years. Teachers received a $1,100 pay increase for 2010-2011, with additional adjustments for employees that had been with the district for 15-17 and 20-22 years. A three percent raise was also approved at the same time for all other employees including supervisory, technical, clerical, secretarial and instructional support, administrative and professional employees and auxiliary employees. A $400 raise for only teachers was approved for the 2011-2012 school year.

While a salary schedule was unavailable for LJISD, a schedule was supplied for the other two school districts. According to SISD documents and Texas Education Agency’s website, the state minimum pay scale for the 2011-2012 school year for new teachers, with zero experience, was $27,320. School districts often base starting pay by experience, degrees and what other school districts pay to remain competitive and to retain their teachers.

Jesse Muniz, SISD superintendent of business and finance, said SISD pays well above the minimum state requirements, adding most districts in the Valley do so. Only some small rural districts pay closer to the minimum requirement, he said.

For their first year, if a teacher has a bachelor’s degree, at SISD they can start at earning over $42,000. Stipends are also given to teachers that specialize in secondary math and science or have their master’s. Those stipends range from $1,500 for a master’s degree to $4,000 for a master’s degree in math or science. A teacher with a master’s degree can start at just over $44,000.

In 2010-2011, LJISD approved a $1,200 raise for teachers and a two percent raise for principals, non-teaching professionals and clerical and auxiliary employee’s. The district also gave employees a one time supplemental pay of $750 just before Christmas in 2010.

LJISD School Board President Arnoldo Ochoa said one of the reasons the current raise was given was because of the success of the district and its dedicated employees.

“This stipend and raise is given to thank them for their commitment not only to the district, but to our children,” he said.

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