Austin ISD could eliminate over 600 jobs to increase teacher, staff pay

Austin ISD could eliminate more than 600 jobs in the next school year's budget, but that means increased pay for teachers and staff on campus, according to preliminary budget information provided to FOX 7 Austin.

None of the job cuts include layoffs to any teacher or staff member on a campus, says AISD. The district wants to cut 375 positions from the central office, 230 of which will be gone following retirements and resignations this summer.

AISD says it will help employees in the other 145 central office positions find new jobs inside or outside the district. These positions will be terminated after June 30. More than 250 of the job cuts are unfilled campus positions.

The district says that as it made significant operational cuts in 2018, including stipends, the only cuts that will significantly help close the budget gap must now come from staff costs. The district spends just over 86% of its annual budget on payroll.

The proposal would save AISD $51.9 million dollars to increase teacher and staff salaries, says the district, with a possible two percent pay raise and $1,000 increase in base pay for teachers and a $16-an-hour minimum wage for the lowest paid positions. Bus drivers may also see a pay bump to a $21-per-hour minimum wage.

AISD says this is needed to remain competitive with other Austin-area school districts increasing their wages.

In addition to the job cuts and investment in teacher and staff pay, the district is proposing an investment of $2 million in an equity allotment to support campuses with economically disadvantaged students. Campuses would also see an increase in per-pupil allocations.

AISD says that these investments would help campuses fund special projects or clubs for students whose families may not be able to pay out-of-pocket for those activities.

The board of trustees is expected to discuss the proposed budget next week and make a final decision in June. If approved, AISD says this would be the first balanced budget the district has approved in more than a decade.

This budget comes as AISD says it estimates it will pay nearly $800 million in recapture for the 2022-23 school year. AISD said in February that it had paid $710,604,433 in recapture for the 2020-2021 school year – that’s almost half of the district's annual budget of $1.7 billion.

For reference, Houston ISD, which is the largest school district in Texas and the eighth-largest in the nation, only paid $197,809,821 in recapture for the same school year. Houston ISD also serves more than double the number of students as Austin ISD.

AISD is projected to spend $761 million in recapture for the current 2021-2022 school year, meaning the district is projecting a $37.3 million increase for next school year. According to AISD, more than $1 out of every $4 paid into the recapture system comes from Austin taxpayers.

Austin ISD pays more than $700M in recapture payments for 2020-21
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