School compensation

School district leaders across Bell County welcomed teachers and staff to a new school year this week.

A topic that certainly had them celebrating was their district’s new compensation package.

The Temple Independent School District unveiled its new salary package for the first time during its annual convocation event. This was a deliberate move by Superintendent Bobby Ott.

“A superintendent has the opportunity at the beginning of the school year to maximize the message and morale,” he told the Telegram shortly after announcing an average 9.2 percent pay raise for teachers.

Belton teachers cheered and whooped in the Bell County Expo Center as school board President Sue Jordan on Monday mentioned the district’s already-approved $90.4 million compensation package.

“As board members, we are all committed to this community and doing what’s best for our kids. Most often that means supporting each of you in the work that you do day in and day out to ensure this district meets its mission,” Jordan said during Belton ISD’s convocation. “On behalf of the board, it was our honor to approve a 2019-20 compensation plan last month that includes $4.8 million in raises for our employees.”

The Texas Legislature mandated school districts across the state give full-time teachers a raise. House Bill 3 — the $11.6 billion public education finance reform measure — requires districts receiving additional state funds to spend at least 30 percent of the increase in compensation for full-time employees who are not administrators.

Temple ISD was the final of the three largest school districts in Bell County to announce its compensation package. So how does Temple stack up to Belton and Killeen?

Average pay increase

Of the county’s largest school districts, Temple ISD had the highest average pay increase at 9.2 percent. This means Temple teachers will get a $3,000 to $5,725 boost on their paychecks this school year.

“Many school districts that we studied, when they released their compensation packages, they released it in terms of ‘historic average teacher increases of 6.5 percent’ — that number has been used by multiple school districts,” Ott said. “As I told the staff: In Temple, we have redefined history because our average teacher increase is 9.2 percent. That is the largest (average increase) that I’m aware of in this area.”

Belton ISD had an average pay increase of 6.5 percent. Teachers in Belton ISD — which covers Belton, West Temple and parts of unincorporated Bell County — will see an extra $3,200 to $5,190 in their paychecks this school year.

“You deserve every penny of that — absolutely,” Jordan said.

Killeen ISD offered a range for their pay increases that starts at 6.6 percent and goes up to 10 percent based on their years of experience. Teachers in Killeen ISD will see a $3,175 to $5,075 increase on their paychecks this school year.

Starting teacher pay

Killeen ISD beats out Temple and Belton ISDs with its beginning teacher salary of $50,300 — a $3,300 increase from last year’s salary of $47,000.

New teachers in Temple ISD will earn $50,225 — a $5,725 increase from last year’s pay of $44,500.

The new beginning teacher pay puts Temple ISD $25 ahead of Belton ISD’s starting salary of $50,200 and $75 behind Killeen ISD’s pay.

“Our board and our administrative staff were very committed to making sure that the days of not being competitive are over,” Ott said.

Belton ISD’s new starting pay is a $2,900 increase from last year’s salary of $47,300.

Killeen ISD has salary edge

Killeen ISD beats out both Belton and Temple ISDs in salaries for teachers with one to 19 years of experience. Their salaries range from $50,575 to $58,150.

Belton ISD comes in behind Killeen ISD for that range of experience. Belton’s salaries range from $50,500 in the first year of experience to $58,025 in teacher’s 19th year of experience.

Salaries in Belton ISD are higher for teachers in their 20th to 24th year of experience than they are for Killeen ISD. Belton teachers in that experience range earn $58,850 to $62,440.

Killeen teachers in their 20th year earn $58,550 while similarly experienced Belton teachers earn $58,850 — $300 more than their West Bell County counterparts.

Killeen ISD’s salary scale ends at 20 years of experience while Belton ISD’s ends at 24 years.

Temple ISD finally comes out ahead of its two larger counterparts in its salaries for teachers with more than 26 years of experience. Teachers in their 26th year earn $62,900. That number increases to $65,900 when teachers have more than 32 years of experience.

Compensation packages delayed

All three school districts delayed the approval of their compensation packages — the largest piece of their budgets — because of HB 3.

Belton ISD approved its compensation package on July 16 while Killeen ISD approved its on July 23.

Although Temple ISD approved its budget in July, it did not announce its compensation package until Wednesday.

“The reason we’ve been quiet through the summer is because we’ve really been studying salaries,” Ott said. “Compensation is a piece that in the past we have been behind so we’ve taken the time to not just study neighboring districts, but districts that are comparable to us in size — peer districts — in other areas of that state.”

School starts Monday for Belton ISD, Wednesday for Temple ISD and Aug. 26 for Killeen ISD.