The Mission Consolidated Independent School District approved the 2019-2020 school tax rate, and it’s going down by 10 cents.
Following the passing of House Bill 3 by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019, the district is lowering the maintenance and operations (M&O) part of the school tax rate. The I&S (interest and sinking) part of the tax rate, which holds the funds for payments on existing debts, will remain the same.
Overall, the school tax rate is going from 1.3398 per $100 evaluation to 1.2395 per $100 evaluation.
MCISD also approved a stipend for their elementary teachers in multi-age childhood classrooms (Pre-K) of $2,000. MCISD implemented the early-childhood program at the beginning of this 2019-2020 school year, opening a limited number of Pre-K3 classrooms at Salinas Elementary School Fine Arts Academy to serve the north side of the district, Escobar/Rios Elementary School to serve the more central areas of the district and Leal Elementary School of Technology and Engineering in the south area.
According to Verley, the demand is so great at these three campuses that they each have a waiting list.
“It was greater than anticipated,” Craig Verley, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at MCISD, said. “It’ll be a situation where we’re probably going to have to open up at some other schools – it will also include the three schools where we already have Pre-K3, but we may be able to open up some programs at some other campuses that will have the combination of 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds together.”
The teachers in those specific classrooms will receive the stipend, which will be $1,000 per semester, ($2,000 per year).
The board of trustees approved salary increases for bus drivers working in the district. These changes result in MCISD having the best paid bus drivers in the area, according to Verley.
Before the increase, the starting rate for drivers was $14.15 per hour, with a mid-point at $16.75 and a maximum at $19.35 per hour. With the increase, the starting wage for bus drivers will be $15 per hour, with a mid-point at $18.54 and a maximum at $20.20 per hour. The hourly rate for substitute bus drivers will be $16 per hour.
Verley noted that this increase was made due to a lack of bus drivers at MCISD – an issue plaguing districts across the Valley.
“We are looking at a bus driver shortage right now, everybody is struggling to find more bus drivers,” Verley said. “This will make us much more competitive since we’re going to be leading the pack now in terms of salary, plus the other incentives that are in place for attendance and recruitment.”
The district is aiming to provide a cost-savings for the district with this new salary increase.
“If we get enough bus drivers, we’ll also be able to reduce the amount of overtime involved,” Verley said. “Right now, the overtime will cost probably more than what we’re going to be paying through the increased salaries.”
The MCISD salary increases and stipends approved this week, along with the additional teacher stipends and attendance incentives approved earlier this year, are all in an effort to not only draw in good educators and administrators, but to keep them at the district.
“When it comes to our classroom teachers and other aspects, it’s not just about attracting the best employees we can, it’s about keeping our employees, because when you have quality employees you want to hang on to them,” Verley said. “And that’s what all of this is trying to hopefully address, so that we don’t lose our best to other districts.”
This article originally appeared in the Friday Sept. 13, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.