Round Rock ISD officials approved up to 4% pay increases for some district staff following several discussions of teacher compensation.

During the April 21 meeting in a 6-0 vote, absent Place 7 Trustee Danielle Weston, RRISD trustees approved a 2022-23 compensation plan that features 4% pay increases for district teachers and librarians, and a 3% increase for administrative and operational support roles. Instructional support, technology, instructional and business exempt, and district police will also receive a 2% general pay increase for the coming school year.

As they have during previous meetings, meeting attendees suggested during public comment that the increases are a start, but they are not enough to keep pace with rising inflation and increasing costs of living.

Katherine Nelson, a fifth grade student at Purple Sage elementary, told the board that she is concerned for her future and the future of Round Rock ISD because of teacher pay.

"Your current proposal has new teachers starting at $52,600 with an inflation rate of 8.5%," Nelson said. "Over 20 staff members shared with me that they leave Purple Sage to take on a second job. Our teachers are tired, overworked, and underpaid."

Nelson called on the board to consider larger increases and said the increased starting pay in the proposed compensation plan does not match up to similar positions in different areas with lower costs of living.

District staff stated in a presentation to the board that the pay increases were recommended to stay competitive by strengthening starting salaries and align midpoint pay rates with current market conditions. The total estimated cost of the pay increases is $15.23 million.

Starting salaries will increase to $52,600 with pay for teachers and librarians in years one to seven and 21-23 adjusted, according to district documents.

The 4% pay increase is higher than previous raises the board discussed in its March budget workshop, when officials were considering increases of 1%, 2% and 3%.

The pay increase comes after the board approved immediate compensation increases March 31 for some support staff positions, which went into effect April 1. Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez clarified that the March increase will not preclude those employees from receiving any raises considered for fiscal year 2022-23.

Those increases are funded by $470,000 in funds previously budgeted for positions that went unfilled, according to RRISD Chief Financial Officer Dennis Covington.

Previous budget discussions have also included necessary budget deficits to accommodate pay increases for district staff. However, Covington told the board that his department has been working to find additional funds in other sources within the district to create a balanced budget.

"We will come very close to a balanced budget, meaning zero debt," Covington said.