Balance, Budget and Everything in Between Are at the Heart of the New School Year

A balanced budget, innovative educational programs and competitive salaries are at the top of the list for the 2023-2024 school year in Alief ISD. Our stakeholders support the district’s initiatives through their tax dollars every year and it is our charge to use those funds wisely; while simultaneously providing our community with students that will be productive citizens and future leaders.

The district hosted several budget workshops, open to the public, ahead of the 2023-2024 school year. The meetings were designed to provide staff and stakeholders with first-hand knowledge of the district’s financial outlook. The impact of declining student enrollment, public education trends, district programs, infrastructure, the ending of ESSER, unfunded mandates from the state and more were discussed. From those meetings, the district created the budget, which was later approved by the Board.

We began the year strong with the announcement of an across-the-board salary increase. Most employees, including teachers, saw an increase of three percent at midpoint, which translated to $2,000 for teachers. Starting salaries for teachers increased to $62,000, making it the fourth highest starting salary in the Houston area. There was only a $52 difference between the district and the third place winner.

Support staff saw an increase of eight percent at midpoint for custodians, groundskeepers, bus attendants, crossing guards, receptionists, aides, clerks and similar positions; making it one of the highest in the area and some food service employees saw even more of a pay raise through job restructuring and recategorizing.

Not only is the district competitive in teacher pay, but in police officer base salary as well; which is important for officer recruitment and retention due to HB3. The district also offers stipends for K-9 handlers and significant overtime opportunities.

The district also has the second lowest employee monthly insurance premium and annual insurance plan premiums. With rising insurance costs statewide, this is a major win for the district and a cost savings for our employees.

The 2023-2024 pay schedule included increases for the people who keep schools going; in and out of the classroom. Groundskeepers, cafeteria workers, bus attendants, clerks and others essential to the district will see higher paychecks, as will teaching staff, on their September 29th paychecks. In addition, employees who have been with the district will see a retention bonus at the end of September ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, and new teachers with bilingual certification will receive up to $3,000. The increases are part of the revised compensation plan approved by the school board last spring. Board president Dr. Darlene Breaux noted employee pay was a priority for the board.

“As we looked at our financial priorities for the budget year, it was important to the Board that we honor the staff’s hard work and commitment to our students,” Dr. Breaux said. “Allocating funds for a raise was imperative to our continued success.”

In addition, Alief is offering a $1,000 referral bonus to employees who recruit certified teachers for the district. The district began the school year with only 24 teacher vacancies and continues its efforts to provide high quality, certified teachers for every classroom.

“The retention bonuses and the pay raise have been great incentives,” Samson Varughese, Olle Middle School robotics teacher said. “They have helped to alleviate some of the issues created by inflation over the recent years and it feels really good to be appreciated for the work that we do.”

Though every financial decision may not be as pleasant, the district continues to examine ways to remain competitive, despite funding challenges affecting most of the state’s school districts. The goal to remain financially solvent in spite of those challenges is what keeps us going.

“I am proud of the work of the Alief team and the sacrifice everyone has made to help us afford to give raises and have a balanced budget,” Dr. Anthony Mays, Superintendent of Schools said. “These are difficult decisions, so we appreciate the support for the tough choices that have to be made.”