At What Cost?

In the last two years, Austin ISD administration has exhausted faculty and staff with a multitude of new mandates in the midst of a pandemic, while offering no explanation of how the goals and changes will lead to meaningful benefits for students and staff. Now, the district continues to make the same mistakes with their budgeting decisions.

Their plan is to balance the budget on our backs, cut costs at the expense of work sustainability and our mental health. Ultimately, this decreases the quality of education for our students. They’re expecting more work from us without additional compensation.  The current plan increases workloads when we are already overburdened, and it is clear that staff will leave in droves.

Austin Independent School District is not just numbers on a spreadsheet; we are human beings who strive every day to best serve our students.  We are teachers. We are teaching assistants. We are custodians. We are bus drivers. We are cafeteria workers. We are counselors. We are clerical workers. We are librarians. We are not just numbers. The human cost of this method of balancing the budget is too high. The district may have a balanced budget at the end of the year, but AT WHAT COST?

The Demands

Demand One

Provide a $6.50 per hour pay raise for ALL classified employees, bringing the minimum hourly pay up to $20. 

  • Superintendent Elizalde has made it her mission to pay classified employees a living wage. We agree, and this should be true for employees at every level. 
  • The New York Times reports that “Austin is one of the least affordable cities to live in America.” We surveyed over 100 classified employees and classified staff report the need for an hourly wage of at least $20 per hour just to meet the cost of living in Austin. AISD employees and families are being priced out of this city and away from the district. 
  • Just raising the minimum wage is not enough. In addition to a pay increase for classified employees at the starting hourly wage, the district needs to honor classified staff employees who have provided years of service to AISD by creating a pay increase that impacts all classified pay levels without compressing the pay scale. 

Demand Two

Keep the 6 of 8 schedule for ALL secondary teachers.

  • Secondary teachers have spoken, and 7 classes is too much. If this happens, teachers will be overworked, and students will be underserved. We will lose good teachers. 
  • Teachers have up to 32 students per class, and at 7 classes per day, teachers would have 224 students per day. Many high school teachers teach more than one course, which means planning for multiple courses. One 90-minute planning period every two days is not sufficient to provide feedback for student work, attend 504 and SPED meetings, nor to appropriately plan for this many students. This lack of planning ultimately takes away from the quality of education our students receive. 

Demand Three

Give elementary teachers the additional planning time they deserve. 

  • The district has recognized the need for planning time at the elementary level, but they’ve coupled it with removing planning time for secondary teachers. Teachers at ALL levels deserve and need planning time.
  • Elementary teachers are legally alloted 225 minutes per week for planning, but with district-required PLCs and other meetings, it averages significantly less and teachers spend nights and weekends working unpaid planning time. Effective teaching requires adequate time for planning.

Demand Four

Reinstate a substitute pay agreement at the elementary level. 

  • Elementary teachers and other staff such as TAs are often required to fill in as substitutes without any additional substitute pay. By not compensating staff for their extra labor, the district is absorbing that money and is less incentivized to find solutions for the sub shortage. It’s time to fairly compensate elementary teachers and staff for their time and extra efforts, especially when fulfilling urgent substitute duties prevents staff from fulfilling their contracted duties, which affects students who require support across campuses. 

Demand Five

Provide $1,000 stipend to elementary teachers required to complete HB3 Reading Academies.

  • The state has required all K-3 teachers to take 60+ hours of reading academy training by the end of the 2022-2023 school year. With a lack of allotted time to complete this training, teachers must complete all of this work outside of their contracted hours with zero compensation. The time and labor that teachers are required to put in should not be free labor for the district.
  • In 2019, various teachers from the district participated in the inaugural Reading Academies and received stipends for their work. For a district that values providing high-quality, research-based literacy instruction for all students, teachers require compensation for this rigorous professional development.