Teachers in Boyd ISD have reason to celebrate – some will see as much as a 14.5 percent pay increase in the 2014-15 school year.
The school board raised teacher pay Monday night, while several people in attendance clapped heartily in approval. Boyd educators were among the lowest paid in Wise County according to data presented by Superintendent Ted West.
Compared to similarly-sized districts in the county – Paradise, Alvord and Chico – Boyd was between 7 and 9 percent below average pay. Throwing Bridgeport and Decatur into the equation put Boyd between 8 and 17 percent below average, with the largest deficits in both equations in the salary of teachers with zero to five years of experience.
Some in the community have been worried about Boyd’s pay scale and how it relates to student performance. Parent Doug Parr said during open forum that the time to increase teacher pay is now, as a large pool of Boyd teachers are reaching retirement age, which means more new hires.
“We are not going to attract top of the line teachers that we are confident in,” he said. “We’re going to scrape the leftovers. I’m not saying all [new hires] will be like that, as some will come here because they want to live here, but it is a great concern.
“We’re so far behind in the pay scale that it will be detrimental to us,” he added. “I know it’s a large number from a taxpayer’s perspective, but if it means we will gain and attain quality teachers, I’m willing to pay a little more – as long as we’re getting a good product.”
West showed the board the differences in pay between BISD and other nearby schools and said the district started looking at salaries after examining averages.
“Those red numbers are the differences between where BISD is and where the averages are,” West said. “It was very eye-opening for us.”
West said without the pay raise, there was little to attract new hires with experience and little to keep current teachers from leaving. He said it would better for the district to hire fewer teachers right out of college.
“The group we seem to get the largest percentage of over the years have been brand-new teachers,” he said. “They’re fresh out of college or have gone through some alternative certification program. Our success rate on retaining those teachers has been mixed at best.
“We have found some extremely good ones that have been with us for years, but some have not panned out after a year or two,” West said. “Some get in there and realize that this is a job and this is real work. Others realize teaching isn’t what they thought it was going to be. When you hire in that segment, you’re having to deal with that. We want to target teachers with between five years and 15 years.”
In order to do that, West recommended teacher pay be at least $1,000 higher than the average of other similarly-sized schools.
“That way we’re not worried about another school talking to them and them moving eight miles for $1,000,” West said.
The additional cost to the district will be about $380,132. West said nearly $200,000 of that is increases the district would have seen regardless of the pay increases.
He believes what is left can be absorbed easily into the budget.
Board members were presented math and reading STAAR results for fifth and eighth graders and saw good results.
Fifth- and eighth-grade testing determines which students will move up to middle school and high school, respectively. BISD students struggled in 2013 with STAAR, showing some of the lowest performances in Wise County.
The district was deemed academically unacceptable by the state because 50 percent or more of the students failed state testing in a couple of previous years. STAAR testing is administered in rounds, which means students have multiple chances to pass the test.
While the passing rate for 2014 has not been set by the state, schools have been aiming at the 2013 rates.
In eighth-grade reading, 2013 state standards required 83 percent of students pass STAAR. Boyd fell short last year with only 79 percent after both administrations of the test.
With only one round of testing completed this year, 81 percent of BISD eighth-graders have passed the reading portion of STAAR. In 2013, 73 percent of fifth-graders passed reading, which was short of the state-required 77 percent. This year 81 percent have passed.
After additional tutoring and preparation to help more students pass the next round of STAAR, BISD might exceed state standards for the first time in at least two years in eighth-grade reading.
They have already surpassed 2013 standards in fifth-grade reading. It is not known if they will reach 2014 standards, as the state has not released those yet.
In math, the state required 76 percent of eighth graders pass STAAR, and Boyd had only 74 percent. This year BISD has had 74 percent pass in the first round and expect more to pass after the second round.
In fifth grade, BISD needed 74 percent to pass and fell short by 4 percent. This year the district has had 74 percent pass, already meeting the 2013 standard.