The School Zone: News

Houston, Texas (June 23, 2020) – The Spring Branch ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously (7-0) during its June 22 monthly meeting to adopt a new 2020-2021 budget with a focus on academic priorities including student literacy at all grades, staffing in growth areas, and a teacher and staff compensation plan.

Under a comprehensive Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) compensation review and plan, eligible district employees will receive a 2 percent of midpoint increase for all those within their salary range. A 1 percent of midpoint increase will be given to those eligible who exceed the TASB salary ranges.

Under the approved budget and compensation plan, new SBISD teachers will earn $58,000 a year, a highly competitive salary in the Houston region. Teachers with a five-year classroom history will earn slightly more than $60,000 a year.

The Board of Trustees and SBISD administration are focused on maintaining highly competitive salaries for both recruitment and staff retention and to help meet the district’s T-2-4 goal for all students to earn a technical certificate, enroll in military service, or attain a two- or four-year college degree.

Other key priorities reflected in this year’s operating budget include commitment to ongoing academic priorities that include student literacy, numeracy, social and emotional learning, and digital learning and device deployments. Staffing related to local student growth is another key budget priority.

“I am so immensely grateful, as I know all of our employees are, for our Board of Trustees who continuously place importance and focus on employee compensation,” said Superintendent Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D. “The Board’s efforts to ensure a highly competitive salary and compensation package for teachers, as well as all employees, means SBISD will remain a top district for recruitment and retention. SBISD truly has the best and brightest!”

“The Board’s support of this budget also affirms our priorities related to student literacy, numeracy, social and emotional learning, and digital expansion. With a focus on these priorities – despite everything coronavirus is throwing our way – we can reach our T-2-4 goal for all graduates while providing the best education possible for Every Child,” Dr. Blaine also said.  

The new budget also reduces the district’s operating tax rate by more than 1.3 cents as a result of major changes in the Texas school financing system begun a year ago under House Bill 3 (HB3).

SBISD’s yearly recapture payments, also known as Robin Hood, initially fell under the new state plan, but payments to the state do not go away, and are expected to be approximately $37.2 million in 2021.

At slightly more than $102 million, SBISD’s estimated fund balance remains at more than 29 percent of total expenditures, which meets a Board objective. This fund is important to the district in the event of weather-related events or a negative economic impact in the next 12 to 18 months.

Also of note, TRS Active Care health insurance for employees will change providers from Aetna to Blue Cross Blue Shield effective Sept. 1, 2020, the yearly start of the new insurance plan year. At the same time, employee premium rates will be either the same or lower than 2019-2020 across different medical plan options except for one plan option which will see a rate increase.

Under SBISD’s operating budget approved on Monday, the new total tax rate is a proposed $1.30748, a decrease from last year’s total rate of $1.32098.

SBISD’s total tax rate is calculated by combining its proposed maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate of $1.00298, a decrease from last year’s $1.01648 rate, with the district debt service tax rate of $0.3045. The district debt service rate remains the same as last year’s rate.

Among new wrinkles in state school funding law, district funding in the past was based on previous-year taxable values. Funding will now be based on its current-year taxable values. In addition, under new law the state will direct what SBISD’s M&O rate will be based on a comparison in Texas of all property value growth. This “final” state rate determination will be provided in August. A final tax rate vote by the Board is then expected in September.

A second and final public hearing was held Monday before Board adoption of the new budget.