AISD balances its books with what Robin Hood left behind: everyone gets a raise, but 600 jobs are cut – News

Amid a change of superintendent and a surprising exodus of staff, Austin CIO set a budget of nearly $1.9 billion for its 2023 fiscal year (through the next school year) on June 23 — but nearly half of that money is owed to the state of Texas.

The reprise system, often called “Robin Hood“, was instituted in 1993 after the state’s large disparities between rich and poor school districts were deemed to be in violation of the Texas Constitution. It was not designed with an area like AISD in mind, which includes some of the most expensive dirt in Texas, but also serves tens of thousands of needy students from disinvested and neglected areas of the city. . For years, AISD’s huge recovery payment — more than the next three districts combined — left the district struggling to meet its basic needs, so it dipped into its cash reserves. AISD Prez Board of Directors Geronimo Rodriguez noted that next year’s budget is balanced without going into reserves, the first since 2017. This is crucial because the district’s excellent bond rating – like a credit score for a public body – could be at risk if the board draws on cash reserves for the 2022-23 budgets.

Because property taxes have skyrocketed in the Austin area, the district’s chief financial officer Eduardo Ramos said the district’s $846 million recovery payment was more than double what staff had expected. He said the district was looking to ask the state for a rebate in exchange for the massive recovery payment on time. “A 10% discount would save us over $84 million, and we can do a lot for employees with $84 million,” Ramos said.

Even if the district doesn’t get a discount, it has still managed to make significant investments in compensation to retain employees. The district experienced a record number of resignations during the School year 2021-22 with 2,106 employees leaving – a 22% increase over the previous school year – and to remedy this, next year’s salaries will increase in all areas. At the same time, AISD will cut nearly 600 positions, including vacancies for bus drivers, AISD police and central office staff. Teachers will receive a Base salary increase of $1,000and a median increase of 2%, meaning the increase will be based on the median salary found in that pay grade.

This 2% increase will cost the district a total of $6.3 million. Then teachers will also receive bonuses: a retention allowance of $2,000 for full-time educators, $1,000 for part-time teachers and $500 for teachers who have worked in the district for five years or more. Ramos said AISD aims to become the highest-paying district for teachers in Central Texas by 2025. The district will also spend $8 million to raise its minimum hourly wage from $13.50 to $16 and $1 million dollars to raise the minimum hourly wage for bus drivers from $17 to $21. .

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