AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD leaders are planning to cut 632 jobs in an effort to reduce spending.
"We have staff from our own communications team, from operations, academics, [schools team at central office],” said district spokesperson Cristina Nguyen.
The 632 jobs include 375 full-time central office positions and 257 full-time positions from campuses. AISD leaders said the job cuts on campuses were completed in the fall "when the district leveled staffing at schools by consolidating classes and not filling vacancies after seeing lower-than-expected enrollment," KVUE's news partners at Austin American-Statesman reports.
Those cuts will help the district give teachers 1,000 base pay raises, and give bus drivers and other support staff raises as well.
Most cuts in the central office came from attrition and unfilled vacancies, but the positions of about 145 current employees will be eliminated by June 30. AISD's chief financial officer said district leaders began informing those employees last week that their jobs will be eliminated and are working with them to find other jobs within or outside of AISD.
The 2022-23 preliminary budget plan includes $5.5 million for a $1,000 increase to teacher base pay; $6.3 million for 2% teacher pay raises based on midpoint salaries; $8 million to raise the district's minimum hourly wage to $16 from $13.50; and $1 million to raise the minimum hourly pay for bus drivers to $21 from $17, according to the Statesman.
The budget also includes an investment of $2 million for an "Equity Allotment" to help campuses with low-income students that may not be able to raise funds for extracurricular activities. The Statesman reports that, under the allotment, elementary schools in need could receive about $20,000 to $35,000, middle schools could receive $40,000 to $45,000 and high schools could receive up to $100,000.
The approximately $1 billion preliminary spending plan will be presented to the AISD school board next Thursday. The board isn't scheduled to vote on the budget until June.
AISD, like others across the state, is struggling to hire and keep teachers.
Nguyen said AISD plans to address equity as well, committing $2 million for extracurricular activities in schools with fewer resources.
"Some of our campuses are able to have thousands upon thousands in their PTA funds, whereas in some other schools maybe the teachers are only part of that PTA," she said.
That money will go to programs such as chess clubs or robotics.
Nguyen said part of the reason money is so tight is Texas' recapture system for school funding, which mandates that wealthier districts pay money back to the state to help fund more poor schools. She said more than half of every taxpayer dollar they receive goes to the recapture pool.
"Right now, because Austin has so much property wealth, we actually are paying about a quarter of the total recapture pool in the whole State of Texas," she said.
Leaving less money for local schools.
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