Houston Schools New Budget Brings Needed Money for Teachers and Improvements

Written by Patricia Hawke for Schools K-12

Houston schools teachers have not had significant pay raise in seven years. The new Houston schools budget plans for an average 8.6 percent pay raise for teachers for the 2006-07 school year, with a total of $49.2 million in funding. The state is providing $31 million for the pay raises, and the Houston schools are providing $18.2 million from their own revenues. An additional $8 million increase also is included for teacher performance pay.

This is all part of the Houston schools proposed $1.4 billion budget for the 2006-07 school year, and the Houston schools will NOT increase school tax property rates by the allotted four cents per $100 of property.

The Houston schools believe the pay raises should make their district more competitive to attract more teaching talent. Newly recruited teachers will start at $40,268, an increase from last year’s $36,050 starting pay.

The Houston schools proposed budget also includes the following:

  • $1.9 million for principal and assistant principal pay raises of 5.1 percent. Again, the Houston schools intent is to make their district more competitive. This also includes additional incentives for principals of larger schools and/or those with higher numbers of disadvantaged students and gifted and talented students, which require more oversight and innovation to educate.
  • $3 million to help academically struggling Houston schools.
  • $4.8 million more for elementary and middle schools.
  • $12 million for small-sized Houston schools that do not receive as much per-student funding but need the revenues for instructional improvements.
  • More than $10 million to help bring school buildings up to standard.
  • $25.1 million for overall school building maintenance.
  • $927,300 (nearly $1 million) to maintain the increased police and K-9 presence at the Houston schools.
  • Four percent raise across the board for school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and hourly employees.
  • Four percent raise for Houston schools administrators.

This is all from the proposed budget’s General Fund, which increases by 5.7 percent under the Houston schools new plan. The Houston schools additional revenue for the coming school year comes from the increase in local property values and the state’s newly adopted school finance system, which shifts more of the funding of public education burden to the state. This decreases the cost of education for the local taxpayers from the 87.1 percent last year to only 77.6 percent for school year 2006-07.

Separate from the General Fund is a special appropriation from the state legislature for the Houston schools. It will place $11.8 million more next year into improving high schools, with each receiving an extra $187 in per student funding. The Houston schools intend to add an additional $39 per student to this special appropriation, based upon the types of students and specific needs of each school.

Lastly, the Houston schools put aside extra money this year to cover the cost of fuel for school vehicles and electricity. The Houston schools have a total of 1,000 buses and other vehicles in its fleet. They expect the cost of fuel to increase by $3 million. The cost of electricity for Houston schools is expected to increase by $9.1 million over last year’s expenditure.