The Killeen Educators Association is calling on the Killeen ISD School Board to approve blanket pay increases for all district employees next week.
“Teachers and support staff at Killeen have worked under stressful conditions during the pandemic and are being hammered by increases in the cost of living,” said KEA President Rachel Bourrage. “Teacher turnover is high and hundreds of hourly workers don’t even earn a living wage. They all won and deserve bigger paychecks.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, KEA members will formally propose a 7.5% pay raise for all teachers, counsellors, librarians and other professional staff and a $3 per hour raise. for bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, guards, aides and other support staff, according to a news release Friday.
The group plans to hold a “wage rally” at 5:30 p.m. outside the district administrative headquarters, 200 WS Young Drive, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
Teacher turnover at Killeen ISD for the 2020-21 school year was 16.5%, which is higher than the state average, according to the group.
“When experienced teachers leave, students lose valuable information and the school district loses money in terms of separation costs and recruiting and training new teachers,” Bourrage said. “We think a lot of that turnover could be avoided with higher pay.”
At the district’s last board meeting on March 29, KISD Superintendent John Craft said that pending the district’s Texas Association of School Board salary review, teachers could benefit from an increase of more than 6% to meet the rising cost of inflation.
“You’re going to see a proposed compensation plan that’s likely going to position classroom teachers ahead of some of the support positions — which is a bit unorthodox,” Craft said at the last meeting.
KEA plans to present information to council showing inflationary pressures on district employees, including an 11% increase in housing rents in Killeen over the past year and the need for a living wage for all workers in the district. district.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for a single person in Killeen with no dependents is $12.86 per hour. But many Killeen ISD bus conductors, guards and cafeteria workers are in a pay range where the minimum hourly rate is $11, and some of those workers have families, KEA said.
“No one who works should live in poverty,” Bourrage said. “The district has made some pay improvements for hourly employees for this school year, but they still have a ways to go.”
Bourrage said the district could afford it.
“The district can afford the raises we’re asking for,” she said. “The Texas Education Agency recommends that a school district maintain a fund balance of 20 to 25 percent of budgeted expenses. Killeen ISD’s fund balance is consistently much higher than that. Financial guarantees are important, but they should not come at the expense of district employees and the students they serve.
The Killeen Educators Association is an affiliate of the Texas State Teachers Association, which is a state chapter of the National Education Association, the largest union in the United States.