Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 5¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

Proposed teacher and staff pay raises for the 2023-24 school year depend on what the Texas Legislature does before it adjourns in May, said Keith McBurnett, superintendent of the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District. 

As the Board of Trustees begins its annual budget workshops, all eyes are on the Legislature, which has indicated it will increase funding per student across the state with money from the estimated $32.7 billion surplus. 

An increase in the basic allotment from the state of $340 per student would allow BCISD to continue all of its current programs and offer a 2 percent pay increase to all staff, trustees learned at a recent budget workshop. The district also would be able to raise the starting hourly rate to $15 an hour for auxiliary and clerical staff. 

“The statewide Teacher Vacancy Task Force has recommended increased pay for teachers, and the state leadership has indicated that pay raises for teachers is a priority,” McBurnett told in emailed answers to questions about the district’s upcoming budget. “Our concern is that funding for pay raises for teachers won’t include staff like nurses, counselors, instructional coaches, etc. It should include all of these positions.”

The new formula should also consider long-term funding for education, McBurnett said, so pay raises don’t go away after this biennium. The Texas Legislature only meets for five months every two years.

During the recent budget workshop, BCISD Chief Financial Officer Clay Goehring told trustees the district is looking at a $900,000 deficit for the 2022-23 school year caused by a drop in projected enrollment. Of that, $800,000 will be covered with ESSER grant money. ESSER stands for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, included in the COVID-19 relief bills passed by the U.S. Congress in March 2020. 

The other $100,000 will come from money the district set aside for this purpose. 

“The planned deficit will be paid with funds set aside in the fund balance, essentially the district’s savings account,” McBurnett said. 

The 2023-24 budget is being built around a slow-growth model, which still leaves the district with a projected $400,000 deficit. 

Even with the deficits, and even if the Legislature does not loosen its grip on the state surplus to help fund schools, BCISD projects a decrease in its tax rate for the coming year. The district has the second-lowest tax rate in the area and the lowest tax rate in its history, according to McBurnett. 

School officials plan to meet later in March with state Rep. Ellen Troxclair (R-Lakeway) and state Sen. Pete Flores (R-24) to discuss the current legislative session. 

“The state leadership has all but guaranteed that there will be property tax relief this Session,” McBurnett said. “It is the details of howthat we are most interested in learning about.”

The BCISD Board of Trustees’ next meeting is 6 p.m. March 27 in the board room at 208 E. Brier St. in Burnet.