Killeen: School board approves raise, but teachers wanted more

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The Killeen School Board approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers and staff Tuesday night, but the Killeen Educators Association says it’s not enough.

Dozens of members of the association showed up at the meeting wearing red shirts.

While they say they're thankful for the 2 percent raise, they say it's not enough when they factor in the cost of living.

Several members addressed the board, explaining how they’re struggling to make ends meet.

"We're hardworking people. We love what we do, but we shouldn't have to go to a food bank or be on medical assistance, require loans or stay at someone else's house to be able to what we do," association President Rick Beaulé said.

Killeen Superintendent Dr. John Craft countered that the 2 percent raise is all the district can afford at the moment.

"Based on our preliminary property values we did not see the growth we were anticipating," Craft said.

Employees who work year-round could see raises in their checks as early as July.

The educators association maintains the district has enough money available to fund a 4 percent increase for teachers and a $4-an-hour increase for support staff without a tax increase.

“The money is there and has been there each year. Yet instead of investing in its teachers and staff, KISD has for years moved tens of millions of dollars into a building fund, even after passing a near half-billion dollar bond,” Beaulé said in a statement earlier.

“The data submitted to the State of Texas by KISD shows the district has had excess revenues of over $20 million each year for the last five years. This slush fund consistently runs well above the recommended state minimum. Meanwhile, salaries and wages of its employees have stagnated or even fallen when adjusted for cost of living. This has contributed to a turnover rate that is now higher than the state average,” he said.

“We all want KISD to be a destination district for students, families, and staff. This is not the way to do it,” Beaulé, said.

The district’s starting salary for teachers with bachelor’s degrees is $46,500.

If the school board approves the increase, the salary would increase to $47,000 a year.

“We’ve got school districts all around us that would love to hire our best teachers so the way you keep good teachers is by paying more than other districts are paying them” KISD, spokesman Terry Abbott said.

In Belton ISD, the starting salary for a new teacher is $46,400.

In the Copperas Cove ISD, the starting salary is $44,500 plus partial payment of medical insurance.

In Temple ISD, the starting salary is $43,500, but the school board has not yet adopted a salary schedule for 2018-2019.

In Waco ISD, the starting salary for a new teacher $45,600, but the school board also has not yet adopted a salary schedule for 2018-2019.