Carroll School Board members met during a special meeting Monday to consider a resolution that will give them more contract flexibility in addressing employee compensation should funding become available during the 2011-2012 school year. Although all six Trustees present voted for the resolution to allow a one-time supplemental payment to employees during the next contract year, the decision in no way binds the Board to take additional contract action. It simply creates some flexibility as the Board considers the district’s financial outlook.
With significant cuts to public education looming on the horizon, school officials all across the state have been reviewing options for raising revenues and reducing expenses, all while retaining and rewarding quality staff. During the course of the past school year, CISD Trustees have discussed on several occasions how to best weather the financial storm facing public schools. Although CISD was unable to give employees a raise this past school year, the Board has been studying options for employee benefits should funds become available. Options that CISD and other districts are studying include employee health insurance contributions, one-time supplemental payments, and more. By law, local School Boards may not change the compensation for a public school employee after the contract start date commences. Neither can Trustees award a gift of public funds. Carroll ISD must receive a benefit and the measure must serve a legitimate public purpose. For some administrative and paraprofessional support staff, contracts begin July 1. Most others, including classroom teachers, begin in August.
During budget discussions this past year, CISD Trustees asked the Administration to explore methods to compensate staff without giving an across-the-board raise. CISD staff consulted with the district’s legal team to explore options. School attorneys advised that Trustees have two options to address compensation – 1) insert contract language which allows for a one-time payment or 2) adopt a resolution prior to the employment year allowing the Board to change compensation after the contract year begins. Current employees were issued their contracts to sign this past spring, so the only option remaining is to consider a resolution.
Trustees met June 20 to discuss but took no action on the resolution for the one- time supplemental payment. The resolution simply gives Trustees more flexibility in considering employee compensation and benefits before the contract year begins. The Board remains concerned about both employee retention and the anticipated shortfall in school funding.
The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is July 18. Trustees mentioned that they may need to call a special meeting or a workshop to review the budget outlook following the Special Session of the 82nd Texas Legislature. That session is expected to end this week. By law the budget must be adopted by the end of August.