The Round Rock Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved an amended compensation plan for the 2019-2020 school year that infuses more revenue into salaries for teachers, librarians, registered nurses, counselors and licensed professionals with an emphasis on ensuring veteran teachers receive a substantial pay boost.

The move comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3 into law earlier this month. The school finance reform bill provides more funding for Texas public school districts and directs districts to “prioritize differentiated compensation for full-time teachers with more than five years of experience.”

Teachers, librarians and nurses with six years of experience or more will now receive a $4,300  annual pay increase and those with one to five years of experience will see a $3,200-$3,600 annual boost, based on a 187-day work year. Counselors and licensed professionals with six or more years of experience will receive a $4,824 increase, while those with one to five years of experience will get $3,630, based on a 190-day year.

That translates to roughly a 7-8 percent increase for most teachers, counselors, librarians and licensed professionals, depending on years of experience. All other employees will receive the general 3.5 percent increase approved by the Board on May 16. The salary increase will cost the District $22.3 million and is part of the $446.3 million total budget also approved by the Board Thursday.

“We appreciate the hard work of the Governor and the Texas Legislature this session to ensure school finance remained a priority,” Superintendent of Schools Steve Flores, Ph.D. said. “House Bill 3 allows us to meaningfully address teacher salaries across the board, but particularly to focus on our experienced teachers. We want to give them the opportunity to remain in the classroom, if that’s where they choose to be, rather than move into administration or out of the education field altogether in order to make a higher salary.”

Changes to the school finance system via House Bill 3 had a major impact on Round Rock ISD’s budget, providing approximately $24 million in additional funding from the state and eliminating a so-called “Robin Hood” payment that had been projected at roughly $50 million for the upcoming year.

Texas school funding operates under a recapture or “Robin Hood” system, where districts deemed “property wealthy” must send money back to the state to be distributed to districts deemed “property poor.”  Last year, Round Rock ISD budgeted to send $32.3 million of local property taxes back to the state under the system. Because House Bill 3 increased the state’s share of public education funding, Round Rock ISD’s recapture payment dropped to $0 for 2019-2020.

“As Trustees, we are focused on doing what’s right for our educators, students and community members,” Board President Charles “Chad” Chadwell said. “We are proud to be providing historic salary increases to all of our staff, and particularly to our teachers, and are thankful to our state legislators for listening to leaders of Texas public school districts and making education a priority this session.”

As part of the budget, the District will be operating at a projected $7.4 million, one-year deficit that Flores said will be manageable and is not anticipated to be realized. Adopting a budget with a slight deficit is not unusual. The District generally spends no more than 97 percent of projected expenses and, despite adopting a deficit budget for the past three years, the District has ended each of those years at least $10 million better than what was initially budgeted. The District ended last year with a very healthy fund balance, essentially the District’s savings account, of $216 million.

In addition to increased education funding, House Bill 3 also offers $5 billion in property tax relief to Texans. Round Rock ISD’s budget includes a tax rate of $1.23 per $100 valuation, down from the current rate of $1.30. The Board is expected to adopt the new lower tax rate in September.