Texas School Coalition Board Member and Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Sharon McKinney provided testimony to the Senate Education Committee on March 22, 2023.

On behalf of the Texas School Coalition on Senate Bill 9, we are grateful that this bill recognizes the importance of classroom teachers—the importance of treating them well and paying them well.  When districts like mine come before you seeking additional funding, it’s usually because we want to increase pay for our dedicated teachers.

While we greatly support the increase in pay for teachers, nurses, counselors, and librarians proposed in SB 9, we are concerned about the lack of local discretion and funding that districts need to also boost pay for district employees such as bus drivers, food service personnel, janitorial and maintenance staff, and educational aides.  Texas is indeed facing a teacher shortage, but I fear we will face an even greater one if we are not able to hire staff to fill those other critical positions who support the work of teachers. No teacher wants to clean their own classroom, drive the buses, or monitor the cafeteria every single day. In my district, many of the people who are willing to work in those positions cannot afford to live on the island where our schools are located, so they must add a lengthy commute (including a ferry ride for many of them) in order to work in those lower wage positions.  We need the funding and flexibility to address the impact of record high inflation across the entire district.

Also, in my district we are battling an outrageous increase in the cost of property insurance. We had a 24% increase in premiums just over a year ago. On the first day of this month, after going out for bids and only receiving one, we renewed our property insurance. The premium doubled and we are getting ⅓ less coverage. If the basic allotment remains at $6,160, that means that over 10% of the basic allotment for each student will go to property insurance alone. This also means that if another Hurricane Harvey hits, we may not have enough insurance proceeds to repair and reopen the district. If the only additional funding my district receives from the state this year is dedicated to compensation increases for a limited number of employees, we will be forced to reduce teaching staff, increase class sizes, and cut programming for students in order to afford our property insurance payments.  

We applaud you for your efforts to increase teacher pay, and we look forward to working with you on a bill that will allow districts facing many different circumstances across the state to boost pay in the best way possible for teachers and all of the employees who faithfully contribute to the education of all of our students.

Thank you for your time.  I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

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