Giving school district employees a 3 percent raise - including boosting the salary of starting teachers to $50,000 - was approved last week when the Arlington school board adopted a $468 million budget for coming year.The budget approved last week includes a surplus of $12.5 million and an ending fund balance of $165 million.Arlington's starting pay for bachelor-degreed teachers during the just-concluded school year was $46,276, ranking below 12 other districts including Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Irving, Mansfield, Northwest, Birdville, and Kennedale, according to a salary survey by the United Educators Association.The only adjustment made to educator salaries from earlier budget proposals was to raise the agreed-upon equity adjustment for veteran teachers from a cap of 15 years to a cap of 20 years. Cost for raising the adjustment is $80,355.“I’d like to see us extend it out from 16 to 20 years for equity pay adjustments,” said Trustee John Hibbs, echoing the wishes of the rest of the board in making a motion for a vote.In other action the trustees took steps to buy land for a new elementary school in Grand Prairie in 2015. The district already has set aside $24 million to build the school. The school board approved issuing resolutions of eminent domain on two parcels of adjoining land in west Grand Prairie. Trustees Gloria Pena and Aaron Reich were absent.One 11.4 acre parcel is located at 925 Preakness Court. Valued by the Tarrant Appraisal district at $425,258, the district is offering $450,000 to its owners, Preakness Place LLC.The second, slightly larger piece of land is 11.8 acres and located at Timber Oaks/Prairie Hill Lane. Here the district is offering $1 million for land valued by TAD at $493,100. It is owned by Hamilton Cash Investments LLC. The properties are east of Crouch Elementary School at 2812 Prairie Hill Lane in Grand Prairie. Building the new grade school is part of an overall strategy to relieve overcrowding in east Arlington schools, officials said.The district will open the James and Barbara Adams Elementary School opens at 2220 Sherry Street in August. Classroom additions that will provide space for 200 students each will be made next year at Knox, Rankin and Blanton elementaries.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins