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Dallas schools raises minimum wage, teacher pay as union members push for more

Staffers said DISD should provide raises that match the rate of inflation.

Dallas ISD headquarters
Dallas ISD headquarters on August 9, 2021.(Brandon Wade / Special Contributor)

By Talia Richman

Dallas ISD employees will earn a $15 minimum wage under the budget approved by trustees Thursday night.

And, though the district will also boost teacher pay, members of the Alliance/AFT teachers union packed the board meeting to demand higher raises that would keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in Dallas.

Staff asked for across-the-board raises of at least 8% to reflect inflation, as well as the trying conditions that school staffers have faced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the district will raise the base salary for employees by anywhere from 3% for school counselors to 11% for some drivers. Most teachers will get raises of around 6%.

The inflation rate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has soared to 9.1%, according to U.S. Labor Department figures. Teachers lamented how hard it is to afford homes in the communities where they work.

“We need you to support the enthusiasm that makes this work possible by providing us with an income that will allow us to provide for ourselves and our families,” Dallas teacher Katrina Rasmussen said. “The proposed salary increase for returning faculty and staff has not kept pace with the cost of living or the high demands of our profession.”

Ultimately, trustees passed the $1.9 billion budget as drafted, with the inclusion of more than $50 million in bonuses for returning staff members.

Trustee Joyce Foreman said that, while she knows the district is taking steps to boost compensation, “it’s important we try to keep pace.”

Money for these retention bonuses comes from federal pandemic aid. Dallas received more than $700 million in funds.

In a brief presentation, district officials outlined how else they’ll spend the massive infusion of funds on COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The largest chunk of the money will go toward helping students catch up after months spent in virtual learning. The district expanded tutoring efforts, extended the school year on some campuses and is offering more summer learning opportunities.

Of the roughly $90 million in new expenditures for next year, the majority is funneled toward staff compensation packages. About $52 million is for the retention bonuses, while $3.6 million will go to incentives for new teachers. The district is also helping to reimburse teachers for fees accrued going through alternative certification programs.

District officials said ramping up compensation is necessary as they compete for staff amid nationwide shortages.

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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