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  • Writer's pictureGloria Gonzales-Dholakia

Putting students first ... by putting teachers first

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Prior to our May board meeting where the Leander ISD Board was discussing teacher compensation for the coming school year, more than 700 Leander ISD teachers had not yet signed contracts to rejoin the district. Many were waiting to see what the board of trustees would do before deciding whether to sign, or not.

We considered two options:

1. Give our teachers a decent, but not sufficient, 5% raise in the short term and work to pass a voter-approved tax rate election (VATRE) in November that would allow us to lower the tax rate, give the district more resources to fund operations, and provide teachers with an additional lump sum payment.


2. Give our teachers a 2% raise in the short term and another 3% bump if the VATRE passes

Under the first scenario, if the VATRE didn’t pass, we would face a budget deficit equivalent to the salaries and benefits of 484 employees. Under the second scenario, we would face a budget deficit equivalent to the salaries and benefits of 385 employees … and the likelihood that a significant number of those 700+ teachers waiting on the board’s decision would not return. Either way, the VATRE not passing would be devastating.

The LISD administration recommended the board support the second option. I disagreed and made a motion to support the first option. Here’s why:

Teachers are required to sign their contracts in May. If their contracts were incomplete or missing assurances for the year, it would likely trigger a mass exodus of teachers that I believe would result in a higher cost equivalency than the first option.

The cost of recruiting hundreds of new staff members in a competitive job market is substantial and also wasn’t factored into calculations for the second option.

The budget deficit calculations were based on a 100% employee fill rate — or all positions being fully staffed. The reality is, this past school year, we had hundreds of unfilled positions. Based on current trends across the country, we can expect to see even more next year. But we should do everything we can to avoid exacerbating that here in our district by giving our teachers every reason possible to stay.

My motion passed 5-2.

The morning after this compensation plan was approved, of those over 700 outstanding employee contracts, only 16 remained unsigned.

Our teachers are life-changers. I am betting on our teachers, because they deserve our highest support and our best efforts. I also am betting on our community to show up to the polls in November to support our district and our teachers.

Regardless of how my fellow trustees voted, I also hope I can bet on them to join me in working hard to pass the VATRE (and the Attendance Credit Election, or “ACE”) and do right by our educators. I’ll share more about both of those ballot propositions in later posts. #1LISD #1Thing

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