Barbers Hill ISD trustees made state history Monday night by being the first public school district in the state to reach the $60,000 mark for first-year teachers, according to superintendent Greg Poole.

“Barbers Hill ISD was the first district in the state to offer $50,000 to first-year teachers, and we are proud to now lead the way again as the first district in Texas to offer $60,000,” Poole said. “Our board has consistently prioritized teacher compensation, and in fact, we lead the state with the highest teacher salaries at all levels of experience. This fact is all the more remarkable when one considers that we have one of the lowest tax levies in the Houston area, and have not raised our tax rate in 14 years.”

Poole told board members that the first-year pay comparison was not especially significant to the district, since it usually hires experienced teachers. In fact, only two first-year teachers were hired for the 2019-2020 school year, and there is only one opening left.

The media often focuses on first-year pay when making comparisons, Poole said, so “we don’t want to lose that battle either.”

He noted that neighboring Goose Creek CISD will pay $58,000 for beginning teachers, and nearby Sheldon ISD will pay $58,500.

GCCISD spokeswoman Susan Passmore confirmed that Goose Creek will pay first-year teachers $58,000 in the new school year. 

In both cases, the number represents base pay. Some teachers make more due to extra duties or special skills. All teachers receive benefits in addition to base pay, which vary somewhat by district.

Across the state, districts clustered around the major urban areas pay quite a bit more than those in rural areas, which can pay as little as $33,660 for beginning teachers. The Houston area has the highest teacher pay in the state.

Poole said Barbers Hill is fortunate to have the resources to pay teachers as well as it does.

“It’s not that we pay too much,” he said. “It’s that others don’t get to pay enough.”

He told the board that the district’s financial condition is due not just to industrial growth, but also to wise strategic decisions made by the board.

“The Barbers Hill School Board and finance office have made successful, strategic decisions that allowed us to add $1 million to the monies the state provided for teacher compensation, and it is encouraging to see teachers across the state receive significant increases,” he said.

Becky McManus, assistant superintendent of finance, presented the new budget to the board.

The total general fund budget is set for $80.4 million, which is down from $83.3 million the previous year. The decline comes from a reduction in the recapture amount that must be paid to the state--all other budget categories increased.

Due to changes in state law, the district’s maintenance and operations budget will decrease from $1.06 per $100 of property valuation to $0.99.

The interest and sinking rate, which pays of bonds, will remain at $0.2698, for a total tax rate of $1.2598.

The district is predicting a 4% enrollment increase.

There is an overall compensation increase of 5.1%.

Other budget highlights included:

• Payroll represents more than 76% of the budget. Not counting recapture, that is 82% of local spending.

• About $100,000 of fees previously charged to students will be paid out of the budget.

• Pre-k is expanded to full-day for eligible students.

Assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Sandra Duree said the district met the board goal of having 100% of seniors graduate under the State Accountability Program.

Also, she said the district came close to meeting the board goal of having all eighth-graders pass the STAAR reading and math tests.

At Barbers Hill Middle School South, 97% passed math and 96% passed reading. At BHMS North, 99% passed math and 97% passed reading.

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