Midway ISD considering possible election on tax rates to increase teacher pay
WOODWAY, Texas (KWTX) - Midway ISD is collecting results from a survey that the district sent in late July to evaluate residents’ understanding of tax rates and whether or not people would support an election to adjust the tax rate.
Midway ISD Superintendent Chris Allen said the district has never experienced teacher turnover like they are right now. This is one of the reasons why the district sent out the survey in late July. He said shifting the tax rate would help them keep up with districts’ competitive teacher pay increases across the state and help with Midway’s current teacher shortage.
“The survey is more about helping us understand what the points are that people are most interested in kind of learning more about and their level of understanding with what the VATRE is,” he said.
VATR is the Voter-Approved Tax Rate. Texas school districts have two sides of their tax rates. There’s the Maintenance and Operation rate, which goes toward funding teacher’s pay and other maintenance day-to-day costs.
The other side of the tax rate is the Interest and Sinking rate. Money collected using this rate goes toward paying off debt for facilities and other capital expenditures.
An election is required when shifting the rates to increase or decrease funds for either.
Allen said Midway ISD is discussing options to decrease the interest and sinking by 3 cents and increasing the maintenance and operations by 3 cents. This would not require a total increase in the tax rate.
This would allow the school district to collect revenue that would be able to go to increasing teacher’s pay. The revenue this could generate would be around $3.75 million which would go toward pay raises for teachers and staff.
Many Central Texas school districts have offered pay raises, resulting in higher compensation than Midway. A first-year teacher at Killeen ISD makes around $57,000 a year, followed by Belton ISD where first-year teachers make around $54,000.
At Temple, first-year’s make around $53,000. Waco ISD recently approved a pay increase, representing an average of 3%. First-year teachers will make $52,975 this year. Then, at Midway ISD, first-year’s make around $48,000. These districts are just some samples of the many across the region, and different factors go toward the compensation plans.
Allen said the shift in funding is needed because of the legislation that failed to pass that would give teachers pay raises across the state.
“If the legislature would fund public schools, we wouldn’t be in this place,” he said. “Because the Texas Legislature has refused to adequately fund public schools, we are now having to try and come up with revenue a different way.”
He is hoping the community will support the district if the election is needed for these pay increases.
“At the end of the day, we serve the community,” he said. “Our schools are and will continue to be a reflection of the community in which they exist. If we are to maintain the level of excellence that we’ve been able to establish a reputation for, we’re going to need some help from our community.”
He said there is a possibility that the tax rate across the district would decrease because of the property tax relief plan passed in the legislature.
Allen said, for the upcoming school year, the district will be okay in terms of teacher and staff, but they are worried about keeping up in future years.
The board will decide on whether or not to hold the election later this month.
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