JACKSONVILLE, Texas — When House Bill 3 was passed in June 2019, it was thought every teacher in the state would get a $5,000 raise.
However, the raises are determined by individual districts and are not a set amount.
Jacksonville Independent School District announced Monday they were giving its employees the highest pay raise in the district's history for the 2019-20 school year.
Jacksonville ISD was told they needed to spend more than $1,000,000 on pay raises for teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians. This would have averaged out to about a $3,000 raise for everyone but they wanted to do more.
"My first reaction was stunned disbelief because I was expecting a raise but I was not expecting the raise to be that much," West Side Elementary pre-k teacher Lisa Lumpkin said.
After many deliberations, Jacksonville ISD decided to dish out $7,000 raises to teachers who have been with the district for less than five years and $7,500 raises for those who have been in the district longer.
Superintendent Dr. Chad Kelly says these pay raises will be beneficial to both teachers and students.
“When students build relationships with teachers, and teachers get to know and care about those students, the climate on our campuses is amazing to witness," Kelly said. "We hear over and over again from students that JISD is more like a family, and they can feel how much their teachers care about them, both scholastically and personally."
"We just decided if the state is going to say this is what's important, then we couldn't just carve money out and set it aside in case they got it wrong, we have to depend on our government to do what's right," Jacksonville ISD's Associate Superintendent of Finance, Lindy Finley, said.
Auxiliary and para-professional staff, such as bus drivers, will receive a 10% raise and administrators will receive received a 7% raise.
"This is just my second year here in Jacksonville ISD but I already know just one year here in the district, this is a district that cares about its teachers," Lumpkin said.
Before this pay raise, the starting salary at Jacksonville ISD was $37,000. That has now increased to $44,000. The average salary for a teacher in the district will be close to $60,000.
"We can choose to live scared and not spend the money and not do what's right by our teachers, or we can do what we need to do and get competitive with our salaries," Finley said.
The district says they currently employ about 900 employees, whose pay raises were long overdue.
"These salary increases for our worthy staff are long overdue, and truly is the most exciting matter I have been involved with in my 26 years in education," Kelly said. "We are grateful to Senator Nichols and Representative Clardy for their continued support of public education by passing House Bill 3."