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  • Writer's pictureGloria Gonzales-Dholakia

Supporting teachers now, to support our district long term

Last night, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees debated and voted on a teacher and staff compensation plan. We ultimately had two choices - with various minor variations:

1. Give our educators a decent, but not sufficient, 5% raise in the hopes most of the 600 teachers who have not signed contracts for the next school year choose to remain in LISD, and in the hopes a voter-approved tax rate election (VATRE) passes in November. The VATRE would lower the overall tax rate, giving the district more resources to fund operations and the ability to provide teachers with a one-time additional lump sum payment. If the VATRE didn’t pass, we’d face the prospect of letting go of 484 employees.

2. Give our educators a minimal 2% raise, and face the likelihood that hundreds of the over 600 currently unsigned teacher contracts wouldn’t sign their contracts and would leave the district, and still face the prospect of letting go of hundreds of employees if the VATRE didn’t pass.

These are not easy decisions, but I am in regular connection with enough teachers and staff to recognize how important this vote would be to the immediate health of our district. Either way is a gamble, and we have seen how surrounding districts are doing everything they can to retain their teachers. Everyone knows retention of great employees is a stronger strategy and much more cost-effective than having to recruit and train new employees, particularly in a really competitive job market and challenging, and critical, industry.

That is why I made the motion in support of the first option. The board vote was 5-2 in favor.

Our teachers are life-changers, and we need to show up for them. Teachers and public education staff deserve more, and the only path to achieving that goes through the Texas State Legislature. Funding from the state is arbitrary and inadequate. Texas is 45th in the country when it comes to per-student funding. And the state student basic allotment should consider inflation rates! In the November election, not only do we need the VATRE to pass — we also need to elect champions for our teachers, students, and community to the LISD Board who are willing to stand up and be a voice for our district at the Capitol.

Please take some time to learn more about Texas and LISD school finance.

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