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SAISD teachers rally for higher pay

The SAISD Board of Trustees is proposing a 2% raise for all full time employees to help address the teacher shortage.

SAN ANTONIO — It’s a problem facing school districts across Texas: hiring qualified teachers and keeping them in the classroom.

According to a report by the Texas American Federation of Teachers, 66 percent of school employees have considered leaving their job in the last year. The same report also said 34 percent of Texas AFT members ranked salary as the number one workplace concern.

The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel is holding a rally Monday ahead of the San Antonio ISD Board of Trustees Meeting. The organization is calling on the district to invest in school employees and give them a raise.

“The bottom line is, is that if we do not demonstrate that we value our workers throughout the district, more people are going to resign. More people are going to retire, and we’ll be starting the year in a very difficult place,” said Alejandra Lopez with the SA Alliance. “Let’s do what we can now. Let’s move that pay raise through so we can really show our teachers and staff, ‘We value you, stay with us,’ and we can attract those highly qualified candidates from other places.”

Last week, Klein ISD outside of Houston approved a $60,000 salary for first year teachers. Dallas ISD also has that 60K salary staring up for approval this week.

The starting salary for teachers in SAISD last year was just over $54,000, a staggering $6,000 less.

Other large districts in the region like Southwest ISD and Harlandale ISD offered at least a thousand dollars more for new teachers. Northside ISD offered over $2,000 more for first year teachers.

Lopez said teachers have been hit hard by the pandemic and rising costs of housing, insurance, and inflation, and are leaving the classroom.

While SAISD is fighting to hire and retain qualified teachers, Lopez said if the salary isn’t competitive, good teachers will go elsewhere.

The reality of a nationwide teacher shortage hitting home this last school year.

“We started this year in our district with over 130 teacher vacancies. I cannot even begin to describe the profound effect that has on not only all of the workers at the campus, but also for our students,” said Lopez. “We have students sitting in a classroom today, in May, that have not had a full time certified permanent teacher in their classroom all year.

“We must invest in our educators because they are the ones working with our students day in and day out,” Lopez added. “If we want to see a brighter future in Texas, if we want to see the brightest future in Texas, then we must make those investments now.”

Tonight, the SAISD Board of Trustees is proposing a 2 percent raise for all full time employees.

In data provided by the SA Alliance, the average pay for teachers in SAISD has grown by 2.5 percent in the last four years by only $1,485.

That’s a skimpy amount compared to SAISD Administrators. The SA Alliance reports administrators saw an average pay hike nearly ten times that much during the same time period, at over $12,000.

A spokesperson for SAISD said in a statement that 32 days were added to the campus admin’s work schedules this year thus contributing to the 14 percent pay increase.

The statement said in part:

“As a rule, administrators do not receive percentage increases that are different from percentage increases for other employee groups.”

The statement goes on to say:

“We value all school workers, and we are recommending a raise in wages in our 2022-23 budget. During recent budget workshops, we have shared information that provides details regarding SAISD’s structural budget deficit. All decisions we make will take the deficit into account to ensure that we provide high quality programs to all our students.We welcome community feedback throughout the process.More information is linked from our district website to learn how to be part of this conversation.

We need all community members to partner with school districts to support public education. Steps such as enrolling students early, ensuring students attend daily, and advocating at the state level for an increase in per-pupil funding will assist all districts in supporting our valuable staff members and students now and moving forward.”

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