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August 22, 2019, Wimberley Texas—The Wimberley ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved an eight percent salary increase for all teachers, staff and administrators at Wimberley ISD on August 22, as part of the 2019 fiscal year budget.

The news brought excitement to Cade and Lori Pharis, a husband and wife who both work for WISD. He is the Health Science Teacher, CTE Department Chair and a coach at Wimberley High School. She is the counselor at Danforth Junior High School. 

"We're both excited about the pay raise and thrilled to be part of a school district that takes care of its employees. It allows us to continue to live and support the community of Wimberley and keep working in education which we love," said Cade Pharis.

Brad Biggers, an 11-year veteran of WISD, teaches AP US History and is the Social Studies Department Chair at Wimberley High School. He is grateful for the great news, saying, "This is such a wonderful way to start the new school year. As teachers, we love working here in Wimberley and this pay increase will ensure that we can recruit and retain quality personnel. I think it's a fantastic step forward for our district and our community." 

The District sent out an email first thing in the morning on Friday, August 23, which sent a jolt of excitement throughout all the campuses. The Danforth Junior High Nurse, Chelsea Kelley, MSN, RN was greeted with an excited team member, Danforth lead custodian, Michele Lindsey who said, "Check your emai!" 

Lindsey, who is nearing her tenth anniversary with WISD said, "It's super exciting and makes me want to stay and continue to work for the District. Everybody was pumped up!"

Lindsey's supervisor, Darrell Rivera, gathered his team and then shared with them individually the increase they would see in their next paycheck. 

Nurse Kelley said, "It's so wonderful to love what you do because you'll never work a day in your life and then also to be rewarded for it, is really exhilirating. I'm thrilled to share in the excitement with all the great team here at Danforth."

The teacher salary schedule is based on the revised mid-point of $54,930. As an example, a WISD teacher or nurse who falls within steps 0-14, will see an annual salary increase of $4,394.40. Those teachers or nurses who fall within steps 15-30, will receive an annual salary increase ranging from $4,408.64 to $5,173.36.

“The WISD administrative team and the board of trustees are excited to offer this significant pay increase to such an incredibly deserving team,” said Dwain York, Wimberley ISD Board of Trustees.

Texas lawmakers voted unanimously this summer to approve House Bill 3, which overhauled the Texas school funding system and provided additional money to school districts, including a portion for employee raises and benefits. Initially, the legislature proposed a one-time $5,000 bonus for teachers, but instead approved a set of guidelines for salary increases that gave district leaders an opportunity to award more sustainable pay raises to their employees. 

“Since the bonus initially proposed by the legislature was only a one-time increase, working closely with the board of trustees, we remained committed to a competitive pay raise based on the state funding and to assure that this was not a one-time pay raise but rather something that is sustainable,” said York.

WISD Chief Financial Officer, Moises Santiago worked through the summer to recalculate the budget based on the new funding and to formulate teacher increases before presenting the budget to the trustees.

The Wimberley ISD 2019 budget reflects an increase in revenues by 10.9 percent and a decrease in budgeted expenditures as a result of the decrease in recapture payment by 63 percent. The increase in revenue was nearly $2 million and the decrease in expenditures, resulting from the decreased recapture was $2.6 million. As a Chapter 41 District, WISD sends recapture payments to the state every year as part of the Robin Hood law that obligates districts with higher property values within their boundaries to give a portion to lower property value school districts. With the recent legislative changes, WISD has been reclassified as a Chapter 49 district but with the same obligations to make recapture payments to the state.  

 “It’s great to start a school year with a surplus and to afford the opportunity to provide competitive compensations to the hard-working employees at WISD,” said Santiago. “We will continue to focus on fiscal responsibility and always look at remaining competitive in our work to attract the best teachers, staff and administrators to the District,” he added.

The district-wide salary increases provide para-professionals and auxiliary employees, including those in custodial, maintenance, transportation and food service at WISD with a raise as well. The Trustees approved an increase to the minimum hourly rate for all WISD CDL bus drivers to $17.  

As an example, a para-professional employee, in Pay Grade #4, who works 207 days at an annual salary of $27,500 will use the mid-point of $32,524.
Pay Raise:  $32,524 X .08 = $2,601.92 (8% of $32,524)
New Estimated 2019-20 salary: $27,500 + $2,601.92 = $30,101.92 

As an example, an auxiliary employee, in Pay Grade #3, who works 226 days at an annual salary of $28,500 will use the midpoint of $31,098.
Pay Raise: $31,098 X .08 = $2,487.84  (8% of $31,098)  
New Estimated 2019-20 Salary: $28,500 + $2,487.84 = $30,987.84  

“We really value the important work of our bus drivers and monitors in transporting the precious cargo at all WISD campuses. It was a priority of this board to make sure the transportation team receives a bump to their salary and also incentives to keep them as part of the District,” said Joe Malone, Wimberley ISD Board of Trustees President.

The new budget approved by the trustees also includes retention bonuses for all auxiliary personnel ranging from $750 to $1,000.

House Bill 3 also provided tax relief to taxpayers by a tier one 93 percent compression to the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate. The rate was previously at $1.09 and the new rate is $1.0165. The Interest and Sinking Rate (I&S) remains the same at .2727. The new total tax rate decreased from 1.36 to 1.2892.

“We are already off to a great year and it's getting better every day thanks to an innovative team, completely committed to excellence,” said York. “On behalf of the board and the administrative team who have worked tirelessly to make the district-wide salary increase a reality, we underscore our appreciation for WISD employees, while renewing our commitment to an optimal work environment for employees and the best place for students in Texas to get an education.” 

According to the Texas Education Agency A-F Accountability Ratings that came out this month, WISD is ranked among the top five Region 13 districts and number one in Hays County.  

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Mial Gary