Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
During their regular board meeting May 16, SMCISD’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a 3% raise for teachers and other professional employees and a 5.26% raise for classified employees. The trustees also approved an employee retention stipend.
Donna Goodall, a SMCISD fifth grade teacher, spoke to represent Crockett Elementary School teachers and staff and said that they have been able to withstand the worst effects of the pandemic due to the leadership of their Principal, Dr. Keith Cunningham.
“The news is filled with stories of teachers leaving the profession of discouraging, depressing and bleak circumstances at school. I’m here today to tell you that the stories are true. It has been very hard,” said Goodall.
“At Crockett Elementary, we have been able to withstand and deal with the worst effects of the pandemic because of the amazing leadership of our principal, Dr. Keith Cunningham,” said Goodall.
SMCISD Trustee at Large, Dr. Mari Salmi, spoke about the crisis teachers are facing throughout the country and thought they should focus on providing a raise to teachers due to how many are leaving the profession.
“In San Marcos CISD, we had 25 people opt-out of continuing to teach with us this year and receive an incentive. What I understand is that in previous years, that number has been closer to 12. So that in and of itself shows us how many more people are leaving this profession,” said Salmi.
SMCISD Board Secretary Mayra Mejia said that she supports Option 4 of the board recommended salary scenario, which provides wage increases to more district staff.
“I am in this position to make a difference, and I am in favor of Option Four. I am not going to leave anyone out on an incentive, on a raise. It’s hard right now, y’all. And the fact that some of my colleagues don’t understand the struggle really disappoints me,” said Mejia.
SMCISD Board President Anne Halsey said that regardless of the raise option they choose, the district would be looking at a budget deficit next year. The district hopes an increase in student attendance next year will help to decrease the deficit.
“So regardless of whether or not we do any increase, any increase is going to bring us a deficit budget. Also, like trustee [Miguel Arredondo], the number of years that I’ve served on the board, we have always had deficit budgets,” said Halsey.
Ultimately, the 3% raise for teachers and other professional employees and 5.26% raise for classified employees passed 5-1, with Brian Shanks voting against the chosen option. SMCISD also voted to approve an employee retention stipend of $3,000 to current teachers and all employees returning to the district in the next school year.
Miguel Arredondo, SMCISD Trustee for Single-Member District 1, voted in support of the employee retention stipend and said that retaining experienced teachers and staff is beneficial to the district.
“Retaining highly qualified, successful, efficient employees behooves all of us,” said Arredondo. “And so I do believe that this is in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and teacher retention and all of the staffing shortages, issues that we see locally and statewide.”
SMCISD Vice President Anne Halsey said that providing the employee retention stipend can help express to teachers and staff that they are appreciated.
“So I think being able to identify the funds that we do have today that we can tell our teachers, tell our staff, tell all of our administrators and our folks how much we appreciate them. And how much we appreciate them sticking through with us during what has been an incredibly challenging year for everybody,” said Halsey.
The district will provide eligible employees with the $3,000 stipend in two installments of $1500 on Oct. 28, 2022 and April 28, 2023.