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Killeen ISD approves pay raises across the board amid staffing ‘crisis’

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 9:47 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Killeen Independent School District has voted to invest more than $30 million in its employees amid a teaching shortage that’s left hundreds of vacancies.

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, board members voted 7-0 in favor of passing a compensation package which would give a 6% pay raise to all employees, and an 8% pay raise to teachers.

“Which will put our starting teachers just over $56,000 to begin,” said Dr. John Craft, Killeen ISD Superintendent. “It puts us right in the mix.”

The superintendent called it the “most aggressive” compensation package in district history.

The district also approved increasing the amount of longevity stipends, tying money to tenure.

“That, along with some additional stipends and just an overall compensation package that we feel like is going to be really competitive and put us in a really good position as we enter this push and this hiring season this summer,” said Craft.

The additional stipends are for bilingual and special education teachers, and there are sign-on bonuses in “critical areas” which include bilingual, special education, and high school physics, chemistry, biology and math.

The principal at KISD’s Harker Heights Elementary School was at the meeting thanked the school board and administrators.

“Thank you for all your hard work,” said Carolyn Dugger.

She says teachers are the ones who make such a huge difference in the lives of children, and all of us.

“They’re the ones who are taking care of the children from the beginning of the day to the end of the day and making such an impact on the success of our world, and so the teachers have worked so hard and they are so dedicated, so I am thrilled to death that we are supporting the teachers in KISD,” said Dugger.

The Killeen Educators Association also spoke in support of the board’s decision.

However, one commenter thought administrators should be excluded from the pay increase.

“People that are already earning a lot of money on the admin side should not be part of this increase,” said Teresa Bonilla.

District officials said funds for the raises would come out of the district’s budget with at least $17.5 million coming from unspent teacher salaries.

Craft says they’re currently 300 classroom teachers short, and have been very worried.

However, after the board vote, optimism is growing.

“We monitor the transient nation of not only our staff but also our student population, we run about the state average with our staff turnover rate, but I hope that obviously this very competitive compensation package will help reduce that turnover and create a little bit more stabilization of our overall employee staff,” said Craft.

The raises will go into effect during contact renewals in July and August.

However, Craft said incentives like moving stipends would start being pushed out immediately.

As far as maintaining the new, higher salaries, stipends and bonuses, district officials said they believed future growth through enrollment numbers would cover the cost.

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