When Texas lawmakers passed an $11.6 billion school finance law in late May, school employees were eager to see how mandatory raises would boost their paychecks.
A month later, The Texas Tribune reports, they're struggling to decipher complicated changes and conflicting financial estimates that might not net teachers as much money as they expected.
Before lawmakers voted to approve House Bill 3, which overhauled Texas' school funding system, they received estimates from the state on how much additional money each school district would likely receive over the next two years. But the estimates came with a warning: They could change significantly once the calculations were performed using local data.
Ahead of the coming school year, districts are making those calculations themselves — and some are coming up short.
•The Georgetown district, for example, is projecting $5.9 million in new money in the coming school year, much less than the $10.3 million state estimate. And it will pay about $9 million in recapture funds, which the state takes from wealthier districts to subsidize poorer ones — not the $3.5 million the state estimated in May.
•The Cypress-Fairbanks district was to get $30 million more in the coming school year, according to the state estimates. But the school board has approved a budget that projected just $14 million more.
In some school districts, local teachers' unions and associations are butting heads with administrators as they advocate for higher raises and larger employer contributions to health insurance.
In the Houston district, the state's largest system, the teachers union threatened a no-confidence vote against the superintendent if the board didn't pass a budget with pay raises. After a contentious meeting, the board ultimately approved a deficit budget containing raises of 3.5% to 8%, depending on school employees' experience levels.