Fort Worth

Fort Worth schools approve budget, teacher raises. How much more will they get?

Inside a Fort Worth ISD’s Gold Seal School of Choice

Students at the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM pursue high level math and science courses to prepare for engineering and computer science careers. Those in the academy's visual and performing arts program learn from professional artists.
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Students at the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM pursue high level math and science courses to prepare for engineering and computer science careers. Those in the academy's visual and performing arts program learn from professional artists.

The Fort Worth school board voted unanimously in favor of an estimated $821.5 million general fund budget Tuesday that gives teachers and employees a pay boost while investing in campus programs.

The board voted 7-0 in favor of the budget. Two trustees, T.A. Sims and Anne Darr, were not present for the vote.

That budget doesn’t include the state’s recent House Bill 3 compensation plan. Still, it includes teacher raises and stipends for bilingual educators.

An estimated $18.4 million is part of the compensation package that includes teacher raises, pay grade adjustments, increased beginning teacher salaries and bilingual stipends. The district has been exploring a compensation package for months even before Texas lawmakers approved House Bill 3, a school finance bill includes funds for teacher raises.

This preliminary budget is based on local tax revenue, including a 7.5% increase in taxable property values and state dollars based on attendance. The district’s enrollment is 82,601 with an average daily attendance of 74,800.

The budget calls for a 2% raise for teachers and employees at the midpoint of every pay grade. There are 11,930 employees in the district.

Elise Schiro, chief financial officer for the district, said that means employees will receive a minimum 2% salary increase.

“House Bill 3 was the school finance bill passed by the legislature in May, and will provide funding for raises in addition to the 2% raise,” Schiro explained in an email before Tuesday’s vote. “The amount of the additional raises will be determined in July/August, and will result in teachers receiving raises of up to 6%.”

Also in the preliminary budget, an estimated $562,500 will increase starting pay for entry-level teachers — from $53,000 to $54,000.

Steven Poole, executive directer of the United Educators Association, said the raises are greatly appreciated by teachers. The UEA represents school employees in Tarrant County and has lobbied the board for raises throughout the budget preparation.

“This is a really good raise for teachers in Fort Worth,” Poole said.

The proposed budget approved Tuesday has a deficit budget. It has total revenues listed at $792.7 million.

Schiro said the deficit is primarily due to a decline in enrollment, and any revenue shortfalls will be addressed by the fund balance in last year’s general fund. That amount is about $171.1 million.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.
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