Birdville teachers and other employees will see an average 3 percent pay increase after school board trustees Thursday approved a $180.6 million budget.The general operating budget is supported by $180.9 million in property tax revenue, leaving a surplus of $263,752. Trustees also approved the child nutrition and debt service budgets.Birdville follows several other districts in boosting teachers’ pay. The Arlington school board last week voted to approve 3 percent raises for teachers, which means a beginning teacher in Arlington earns $50,000, while a teacher starting out in Birdville will make slightly less at $49,000.Fort Worth this week also approved a 4 percent pay increase for its teachers. Beginning teachers will be paid $47,000. Mike Seale, associate superintendent for finance, said trustees looked at six of the highest paying districts adjoining Birdville which included Keller, Hurst Euless Bedford and Southlake Carroll. The board wanted to pay teachers close to the average of what nearby districts are paying, he said.“It’s not going to be our goal to have the highest starting salary. Our board wants to be fair and market competitive,” Seale said.Teachers who are at steps 10 through 25 will also receive compensation. The budget will also include funds to upgrade technology at all campuses, improve facilities and hire additional staff.Property values in the district increased by 5.8 percent and officials said they expect the tax rate of $1.43 per $100 of assessed value to remain the same. Every campus will have technology upgrades such as Wi-Fi, but it will be more expensive to update the older campuses. The district also needs to replace aging computers purchased in 2006 and buy special software and the necessary wiring and work stations to address student performance.Several trustees said they’re pleased that spending plans emphasize improvements in the classroom and staff development. Some new programs include art instruction at elementary campuses and more bilingual resources.“We have been good stewards of our finances and we were playing catchup (in previous years),” board member Cary Hancock said.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz