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Burnet school district raises staff pay, secures low-interest rate for bonds

Bertram Elementary School

The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District secured a 1.98 percent interest rate for $52.5 million in bonds, which voters approved in May, to cover upgrades and renovations across the district, including additions to Bertram Elementary School. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Burnet Consolidated Independent School District staff are getting pay raises after the board of trustees approved a 2-percent, midpoint increase during its regular meeting Monday, June 28.

The raises are part of the district’s 2021-22 compensation plan, which included an increase in new teacher salaries from $48,850 to $49,610. Across the board, the midpoint salary increase is $1,060 for current teachers. 

Non-teaching staff will also receive a 2-percent, midpoint pay increase. Some, depending on current salary, will get a lump sum equal to the pay increase, according to Superintendent Keith McBurnett, 

The pay raises total $460,000.

Trustees also approved increasing the district’s contribution to staff insurance, up from $386 to $417 monthly for health, dental, vision, and telehealth. 

“Burnet CISD is not only a leader in compensation provided to staff but also a statewide leader in the benefits provided to staff,” he stated in an email to employees. “Districts across the state are providing pay raises, but many are not simultaneously increasing the district’s contribution towards insurance for employees.”

In those cases, higher insurance premiums could negate any raise.

The board also increased substitute teacher pay rates, approved a sign-on bonus for new bus drivers, and added a one-time, post-COVID-19 stipend for staff of $1,000 or $600, depending on the person’s position. 

“This represents a real commitment on the part of the board of trustees and administration to have the most competitive compensation plan possible and positions Burnet CISD to continue to lead the market in compensation of all staff,” McBurnett stated. “In addition, it demonstrates the value that the board of trustees places on its people.”

The district’s underwriters also secured “a historically low interest rate of 1.98 percent” in the sale of its $52.5 million bond. BCISD voters approved the bond in the May election.

McBurnett attributed the low rate to the district’s strong financial rating and the market. 

Along those lines, the board of trustees also approved paying off $1 million of current debt early, which is projected to save the district $470,000 in interest payments. 

Even with all of this financial movement, the district is eyeing a proposed 2021-22 ad valorem tax rate of $1.077 per $100 valuation, a cut of 6.9 cents from the current rate. 

In other action, the board approved:

  • naming Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. the district’s construction manager at-risk for larger projects such as Bertram Elementary School additions;
  • approved the members of the bond oversight committee, who are Damon Beierle, Jason Howell, Michael Holcomb, Katy Duke, Lori Ringstaff, Jen Blanton, and Elton Heine;
  • and elected board officers: Andy Feild as president, Angie Moore as vice president, and Earl Foster as secretary.