DISD Budget: Teacher Pay Raises, 70 More Officers

Dallas ISD Sign | Image by WFAA
Dallas ISD Sign | Image by WFAA

Dallas ISD’s board of trustees approved a 2024-2025 budget of nearly $1.9 billion Thursday evening.

The budget, which includes plans to bump up teachers’ salaries, hire around 70 new police officers, and cut around 600 staff positions, passed with Trustees Dan Micciche, Camile White, Ben Mackey, Joe Carreon, Sarah Weinberg, Ed Turner, and Lance Currie voting in favor. Trustee Maxie Johnson was absent, and Trustee Joyce Foreman abstained after questioning why “the beginning unassigned balance for 2024-2025 was basically the same as 2023-2024 with a decrease in enrollment.”

Between 2011-2012 and 2023-2024, Dallas ISD’s student body fell from 157,575 to 139,305. Around 137,529 students are expected to be enrolled this coming term.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, a series of budget workshops were held earlier this year to balance falling student enrollment with the need to attract qualified teaching staff, support programs to improve student outcomes, and boost campus security.

By mid-April, a prospective budget was ready to be submitted to the board for a vote in May, a month earlier than usual.

“This would help us to communicate compensation to approximately 50% of our team members that are non-teachers, and it would also allow us to begin to close out of the 2023-2024 school year,” Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde explained to trustees during Thursday’s meeting.

Hundreds of non-teaching positions will be cut to accommodate plans to grow the Dallas ISD police force by 70 officers and allow for a new average annual teacher salary of $70,000, with the salary minimum being set at $62,000 — up from $61,000. The staffing cuts include around 600 campus-based positions, 170 full-time central positions, and 55 assistant principals. Some of the individuals currently serving in those positions will be sent to fill vacancies in the district.

“There are no cuts in school districts that don’t have a negative impact on somebody, somewhere, but the reality is we don’t have unlimited money,” said Mackey, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Nevertheless, there will still be a budget deficit of around $187 million, which the district’s fund balance will purportedly cover. It is currently unknown whether Texas lawmakers will raise the basic allotment of state taxpayer money per student, which has remained at $6,160 since 2019.

Many expect school choice to pass out of the Texas Legislature this next session, yet how exactly education savings accounts will be deployed remains to be seen.

With financial strains coming from state funding stagnation, increased security mandates, shrinking student bodies, and more, a number of public school districts have had to make staff cuts and shutter campuses, the latter of which Mackey referenced during the meeting.

“A ton of them are closing schools and having to close them on a short timeline. And we have the luxury of not doing that because of thoughtful planning like this,” Mackey said, per Fox 4 KDFW.

As recently covered by The Dallas Express, some districts with far better academic records than Dallas ISD are even facing budget issues. For example, Plano ISD officials are currently deliberating the closure of four campuses by 2025.

While only 41% of Dallas ISD students scored at grade level on the STAAR exam in 2021-2022, 62% of Plano ISD students did so that same year, according to the latest available Texas Education Agency accountability reports.

Some have suggested that Dallas ISD’s financial issues are of their own making.

“While the district administration, with justice, blames the governor and legislature, Dallas ISD has also consistently failed to invest in its workers,” said district teacher Andrew Kirk during Thursday’s meeting, per DMN.

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