The Judson Independent School District board of trustees on Thursday unanimously approved about $11.8 million in raises for staff that will go into effect next school year.

Superintendent Jeanette Ball said these are likely the largest pay increases the district has ever implemented.

The 2022-23 compensation plan includes a 6% raise for all teachers, as well as auxiliary and clerical staff. Professional staff, which includes principals and coordinators, will receive a 4% raise.

Additionally, teachers and professional staff will receive a $1,000 stipend, while auxiliary staff, which includes bus drivers, will get two $1,000 stipends — one in December and one in June.

With the pay raises, a new teacher will start at $57,362 for the 2022-23 school year. Teachers started at $53,712 last school year.

“We’re all after one goal, which is our student success,” Ball said Friday. “We’re able to support our employees because we know our employees support our students. This has been a difficult year. There’s been lots that our employees have had to learn how to do differently and have truly stepped up to the plate.”

“We wanted to be able to give the most raises that we could but at the same time be fiscally responsible, because we never want to put ourselves in a position that would ultimately be detrimental to the district.”

Judson ISD is the fourth largest district in Bexar County, with almost 24,000 students. The district employs about 3,000 people, including 1,600 teachers, according to the district’s 2020-21 state academic performance report.

With the 6% raise and $2,000 stipend, auxiliary and clerical staff will receive an almost 9% pay increase, Ball said. The 6% raise brings the district hourly minimum wage to $14.93 and $15.90 for clerical and instructional support personnel, depending on the level of experience. Bus drivers start at $16.67 an hour.

The district will use about $4 million from its federal coronavirus relief funds to cover the costs of the incentive stipends. Overall, Judson expects to have a budget deficit of $22.1 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year, dipping into its $106 million fund balance. The district’s budget for next fiscal year is approximately $251.3 million.

Trustees expressed gratitude for staff before approving the pay increases. District 1 trustee Suzanne Kenoyer said she wanted employees to know that the board has their best interests in mind.

“All of us on the board really truly do care about our employees,” she said. “We want them to have the funds in their pocket that they need.”

District 7 trustee Rafael Diaz Martinez Jr. said he was glad the district was able to find funds for pay raises this year, but that may change in future years, which doesn’t mean Judson values staff any less. He said in Spanish, “Cuando se puede, se puede, y esta, no se pudo,” or “when you can, you can, and this time, it couldn’t be done,” a phrase often used in his house for those times when the district can’t afford to increase pay.

“Please know that your work is valued,” he said. “You’re valued as people, as individuals.”

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.