Districts cautiously approach pay increases for 2017‒18

by Troy Bryant

Pay raises are in a holding pattern for 2017‒18 in Texas schools, with overall expected increases unchanged from last year, according to the latest prospective pay raise poll conducted by TASB HR Services.
In addition, the annual survey finds 76 percent of responding public school districts anticipate giving a pay raise for 2017‒18 (down slightly from 78 percent in last year’s poll).


Of the districts planning a salary increase, the median pay raise is 2 percent for each surveyed pay group—teachers, administrators/professionals, and clerical paraprofessionals/auxiliary. Last year’s actual median teacher pay increase was 2.2 percent, according to the 2016‒17 TASB Salary Survey.

In ESCs 4–Houston and 10–Richardson, more than 90 percent of responding districts expect to give a raise, while only about half of participating districts plan pay raises in ESCs 14–Abilene and 16–Amarillo (53 and 54 percent, respectively). In Central Texas, 76 percent of districts in ESCs 13–Austin and 20–San Antonio project pay increases for their employees.
Responses also vary by Texas Education Agency (TEA)-defined community types, which accounts for such factors as enrollment, enrollment growth, economic status, and proximity to urban areas. Of the eight district types measured, those with the highest percentage of respondents anticipating a pay increase included major urban (100 percent), other central cities (93 percent), and major suburban (88 percent). Independent towns and rural communities had the lowest number of respondents planning to give a pay increase (63 and 66 percent, respectively).

Among respondents intending to give an increase to teachers, 29 percent expect to give a 2 percent raise followed by 22 percent intending to give an increase of 3 percent. Thirty-four percent of districts expect to provide an increase that is less than 2 percent.


The breakdown by region shows that ESCs 18–Midland (3 percent), 5–Beaumont (3 percent), 2–Corpus Christi (2.5 percent), and 10–Richardson (2.5 percent) have the highest median increases, while ESCs 14–Abilene (1.25 percent) and 20–San Antonio (1.75 percent) have the lowest median increases. Administrator and nonexempt pay increases in these regions generally followed similar trends. 
By community type, major urban districts indicated the lowest median pay increases (1.5 percent) across all job groups, while non-metropolitan fast growing districts had the highest median (3 percent). Major suburban districts expect to give a 2.5 percent median pay increase.
A closer look at the smallest and largest districts by student enrollment size shows that 68 percent of districts with fewer than 1,000 students plan to provide a pay raise. In large districts with 10,000 or more students, 91 percent intend to give a pay raise.
In addition, districts were asked how teacher pay increases would be calculated. Nearly half (44 percent) indicated a step increase only, while 33 percent reported a raise based on the pay range midpoint or market value—nearly unchanged from last year’s response rate. For administrators/professionals and clerical paraprofessionals/auxiliary, 47 percent and 48 percent indicated a pay increase based on the pay range midpoint or market value, respectively.

The poll was conducted in April 2017 and includes responses from 336 Texas public school districts across all enrollment sizes. It is the sixth year HR Services has surveyed member school districts, providing an early picture of pay increases statewide. Survey respondents received a summary report of the results. Projected pay increases reported by participants may be pending final board approval.

10 important facts about Generation Z

by Zach DiSchiano
Millennials are no longer the youngest generation in the American workforce.
Generation Z’s first class of college degree holders are entering the labor market this spring and have a completely different set of traits, interests, and values than their millennial predecessors.
It’s time to start learning about the characteristics that define this young generation, and we’ve listed 10 things you should know about them as they prepare to join the workforce. Districts that have a grasp on what motivates Generation Z will have a better chance at recruiting and retaining them. Here’s what we know so far:

  1. They’re competitive
    • Generation Z was raised by tough love, skeptical Gen Xers and know there are winners and losers in life. In a national survey by GenZGuru, 72 percent of Gen Z respondents said they’re competitive with those doing the same job. This style contrasts with millennials, who enjoy collaborating with their colleagues.
  2. They love technology…
    • They’re the first true digital natives, because they’re the first generation that’s only known smartphones, not the basic flip phones. Gen Z lives and breathes technology and they want to work for companies who embrace technological advancements—90 percent of survey respondents said a company’s technological sophistication would impact their decision to work there.
  3. ...but they prefer face-to-face interaction
    • An overwhelming 84 percent of Gen Z respondents said their preferred method of communication is through face-to-face interaction. As a generation that grew up in the digital world, they’re self-aware and understand social media and texting can actually have a negative effect on real-world relationships.
  4. They’re attracted to stability
    • A surprising 61 percent of Gen Z respondents said they would stay at a company for more than 10 years. This runs counter to the millennial mindset, where loyalty to a company is very low on the priority list. The reasoning lies with Gen Z’s upbringing in the Great Recession. The financial difficulties impacting the nation also impacted the generation's values, and some experts say they’re in “survival mode,” caring only about monetary security and benefits.
  5. They don’t care about a company’s reputation
    • Only 5 percent of respondents said they’re motivated by a company’s outside reputation. They just want to work somewhere that’s honest and transparent with its employees.
  6. They’re entrepreneurial
    • Approximately 75 percent of Gen Z respondents said they wish their hobby would turn into their full-time job. They also embrace the culture of moonlighting, or, in modern terms, having a side hustle. Gen Zers don’t believe in the traditional one job, 9-to-5 career. They want to have a blend of multiple jobs and side hustles they can work on interchangeably throughout the day and even after 5 p.m.
  7. They’re open to being mentored
    • Being raised by Gen Xers, Gen Z was informed early and often that their opinions aren’t always right and that there is much to learn from others. They are more grateful for their jobs than millennials and understand they will have to start from the bottom in most cases. Millennials felt they could jump into their dream job right away without having to work their way up.
  8. They prioritize salary and benefits
    • Because of the impact of the Great Recession on their upbringing, Gen Zers are highly concerned with financial security and benefits. Millennials were more focused on making a difference through their work.
  9. They’re pragmatic
    • Sixty-one percent of respondents said they need to know what career they want to pursue before they go to college. In contrast, a good portion of the millennial generation went to college to figure out what career path they wanted to pursue. That’s one of the defining factors of Gen Z—they like planning and security. No surprises.
  10. They’re all about hyper-customization
    • Gen Z is all about standing out from the crowd. They live in a personalized world—they have their own Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts all with their own unique following. This generates a desire to feel unique, and employers should cater to that. Making Gen Zers feel like their job is specifically designed to their particular strengths is a big step. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z respondents said they would rather write their own job description, and 62 percent would rather customize their own career plan than have an organization do it for them. Focus on customization and personalization, and you’ll cater perfectly to Gen Z needs.


Overcoming obstacles in recruiting bilingual teachers

By Zach DiSchiano
The bilingual student population in Texas has increased by more than 300,000 in the past decade, but while the number of bilingual certified teachers also has increased during that timeframe, the number of certified teachers hasn’t kept pace with student enrollment growth.
Bilingual educators have been identified as a shortage field in Texas each year since 1990, and in most years, English as a Second Language (ESL) has been identified as a shortage area. Both are still considered shortage areas today due in part to the rigorous certification process.
Educators wanting to become certified for a bilingual teaching position must take two additional tests not required of teachers in other subject areas—the Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test (BTLPT) and the Bilingual Education Supplemental test.
These additional certification exams are considered by many to be more difficult and expensive, and many bilingual and ESL teachers feel their pay doesn’t reflect their true workload—even in districts that pay stipends.
After attaining the appropriate certification, bilingual teachers are hired at the same salary every other entry-level teacher starts at, plus whatever stipend their district offers, or, less commonly, a signing bonus. The median stipend districts in Texas pay for bilingual teachers is $3,000, according to this year’s TASB Salary Survey. While it certainly helps, some prospective candidates may not see the stipend as an appropriate value for the additional work required of them and may look to use their coveted skill set in a different field.  
These are just some of the difficulties districts across the state are experiencing with hiring bilingual and ESL educators. We’ve come up with a short list of things to do to help recruit and retain bilingual teachers and overcome some of the obstacles many districts face.

  • Look beyond our borders for talent
    • Many districts in the state, regardless of size, are focusing efforts on recruiting teachers from countries like Puerto Rico and Spain. Teachers in Puerto Rico are already United States citizens familiar with American customs and culture, and they could double or triple their present salaries by taking a job in Texas. Spain's Education Ministry operates more than 20 regional offices in the United States, with two in Texas. To participate in Spain's placement program, teachers must have at least three years of experience, and must commit to working three years in the United States. Teachers' travel costs, and sometimes the recruiting trips for districts, are covered by the Spanish government.
  • Leverage stipends and signing bonuses
    • Most districts already offer stipends to bilingual teachers, and some offer signing bonuses on top of the stipends to aggressively recruit educators who can teach bilingual or ESL students. It’s important for districts to allocate appropriate funds for teachers in shortage areas, and equally as important for HR staff to publicize all the benefits they offer these educators.
  • Participate in lots and lots of job fairs
    • Sometimes it just takes outhustling other districts to properly staff your schools. Hosting job fairs in your area and participating in others around the state while emphasizing your need for bilingual and ESL teachers can really make a difference in attracting the right number of educators to your district. Travel to towns with higher Spanish-speaking populations and set up shop. Some districts even host “bilingual teacher job fairs” early in the spring to target their efforts specifically to those hard-to-find teachers and not lose them in the whirlwind of a regular job fair.
  • Ease the apprehension concerning certification
    • Walk prospective teachers through the certification process. Yes, there are more exams for bilingual certification, but offer up resources and study guides to help teachers properly prepare for the tests. TexasTeachers.org has many helpful resources for teachers getting ready for the BTLPT and Bilingual Education Supplemental test, as well as an online study community for group learning.
  • Use tactics that work with teachers in other subjects
    • If something is working in attracting English, math, and science teachers, keep using that strategy. Your district may be more in need of an ESL teacher, but that doesn’t mean all of your recruiting tactics have to change. Use what works. Sell your district's culture. Sell the community. Sell the environment. Whatever your district is strong at, leverage that benefit and stick with it.
The struggle to find and keep bilingual teachers is ongoing and is occurring throughout the state. Through strategic recruiting and by using some of these tactics, districts can improve their chances of recruiting enough effective bilingual teachers to keep up with the needs of the state’s growing bilingual student population. 

HR Extras

AASPA develops human capital certification program

The American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA), in conjunction with Battelle for Kids, has developed a national human capital certification program focused on HR staff working in PK-12 education settings. With support from the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA), AASPA, and Battelle for Kids recently facilitated two pilot cohorts in Texas.

The Professional Human Capital Leaders in Education (pHCLE) certification demonstrates that an individual has:
  • High level of knowledge and skill in HR, specifically in PK-12 education,
  • Mastery of essential HR practices as they pertain to PK-12 education,
  • Commitment to professional standards, and
  • Dedication to continued mastery of knowledge and skill through recertification.
AASPA is accepting registration for its first virtual instructor cohort, slated to begin in September. More details are available on the AASPA HCLE website

Bills to watch

We're tracking bills making their way through the legislature that may have an impact on HR operations. Here are some of the bills to keep an eye on:

HB 816 (Bernal) would add more specificity to classroom teacher mentor obligations; require mentors to agree to serve for two years; allow the commissioner to limit the number of classroom teachers assigned to each mentor; and require potential mentors to demonstrate interpersonal skills, leadership skills and instructional effectiveness. The bill would also require school districts to provide training for mentors, and mentors must meet with the classroom teachers they support for at least 45 minutes once per week. HB 816 also creates mentor program allotment so districts can fund the program and provide stipends for mentor teachers.

HB 1918 (Guillen) would create a professional development grant program for first-year teachers; teachers who are teaching a subject for which they don’t have a bachelor's degree in that subject; or teachers serving at a campus assigned an overall performance rating of D or F.

HB 4064 (Bohac) requires that individuals obtaining an educator certificate that requires a bachelor’s degree must also receive instruction in digital learning, including a digital literacy evaluation followed by a prescribed digital learning curriculum.

SB 653 (Taylor, V.) revokes the pension of an educator involved in an improper relationship with a student.

SB 196 (Garcia) requires a school to notify parents (online or written) if it does not have the equivalent of a full-time nurse, librarian, or school counselor on campus for more than 30 consecutive instructional days during a school year. School districts in counties with a population of less than 100,000 are not required to provide these notices.

SB 1317 (Uresti) would prohibit a district from requiring a teacher to report for service at the beginning of a school year earlier than the seventh business day before the first day of instruction. A district would also have to notify each district teacher of any meetings or training that the teacher would be required to attend that is scheduled to occur on noninstructional days in the following school year before the last day that a teacher may resign.


Inside HR Services

Upcoming training for leave administrators

We're presenting our two-day workshop for district staff responsible for administering leave at TASB’s main Austin office. Managing State and Federal Leave, which provides a detailed look at all leave benefits, will be presented on Tuesday, June 6. Get a Grip on the Family and Medical Leave Act will be presented on the following day, Wednesday, June 7.
Get a Grip on the Family and Medical Leave uses actual situations in exercises and case studies to help participants learn how to apply FMLA regulations, identify potential problem areas, and develop procedures for administering family and medical leave. For a detailed description of both workshops or to register, please visit our training page

Model Employee Handbook update coming soon

The 2017 Model Employee Handbook (MEH) will be released online in mid-May. This update will be completed before the close of the current legislative session. There may be bills that will require additional changes to the text of the MEH and your district employee handbook prior to the start of the 2017–18 school year. These changes will be incorporated into the online handbook by mid-July.