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MISSION — The Mission Consolidated Independent School District (MCISD) board received a presentation from Compensation Consultant Luz Cadena with the Texas Association of School Boards.

“We’ve taken a very serious look in terms of the compensation review process, we started it earlier in the year,” Mario Solis, the assistant superintendent for human resources and student services said. “Part of the issue that we wanted to address, over the last several years we were not having any type of pay raises due to financial issues and the changes in funding for school districts.”

Solis explained the district had to look at how it is fairing with the current market values of different jobs MCISD currently holds. He added they are also looking at adjustments to be recommended to the board, for standards that have already been made in the past.

Cadena began her presentation be expanding on the pay system objectives, pay rates should be able to recruit employees, retain employees, pay for the job value and keep pay and raises within the budget.

“When a pay system is designed properly, it is going to have competitive pay ranges,” she said. “You don’t over pay or under pay for the job. You provide the pay increases that other pay districts in your peer group are providing so that you maintain that competitive position.”

TASB uses a pay range to determine the market value of a job. By using a graph, Cadena explained market value would be 100 percent, so it is recommended when paying employees they are kept anywhere between 105 percent at the maximum and 95 percent at minimum. A pay rate any lower than 95 percent of market value is no longer competitive, and lower than the value of the position.

Though, Cadena said paying a new employee at 85 percent is allowable due to inexperience. Once an employee has been with a district for years, it allows room for growth, and then the pay rate can reach the 95 percent or higher range over time.

While pay raises were not anticipated for the 2012-2013 school year due to cuts in education funding, TASB conducted a Salary Increase Quick Poll and found that 79 percent of school districts anticipated a pay raise for the 2013-2014 school year.

A study done by TASB over the teacher market shows Weslaco ISD as the highest paying district for new teaching staff, MCISD holds sixth place out of nine districts in the Rio Grande Valley.

Starting pay for new teachers, according to the TASB study, at MCISD is at $42,400, while Weslaco ISD pays $44,500. Districts with a higher starting pay include: Edinburg, Sharyland, Donna and Harlingen school districts.

Cadena said she commended the district for approving a signing bonus of $2,500, which would allow the district to recruit quality staff in bilingual, math and science subjects.

The consultant did recommend a change for the master’s degree stipend.

“Consider a $3,000 degree stipend for a master’s in their content area, grandfathering the teachers that currently are receiving the $1, 250 stipend,” she said. “If these teachers go back to school, and they get a master’s degree, then they would receive up to the $3,000 amount.”

Final recommendations included: increasing starting teacher salary to $44,000 annual pay; providing teachers a $1,500 (three percent) general pay increase; providing all other employees paid within pay ranges a three percent general pay increase to reward and retain the districts quality staff; improve alignment with competitive market values for benchmark jobs; limit new to the district teacher placement to 20 years; and consider offering content area master’s degree stipend of $3,000.

The recommendation on the limit on new to the district teacher placement caps experience pay at 20 years, allowing teachers to only receive raises up to those years in experience, thus not going over the maximum pay range, according to Cadena.

Continued research was given at the MCISD Finance Committee Meeting on Tuesday, where Cadena explained how some employees may see two separate pay raises at the realigned pay structure, that connects the district’s pay rates with the current market value of a position.

“If (the employee’s) pay does not fit within the new pay range, meaning that it is below the new range minimum, after the general pay increase, then they would receive an adjustment to a range minimum,” Cadena said. “Some jobs fit within the new structure and they are only receiving an equity, some jobs do not fit within the new structure and are receiving an adjustment to the range minimum and may not be receiving the equity.”

Cadena added there are two adjustments taking place if the board decided to approve TASB’s recommendation of realigning the pay structure. Not all staff would see raises; less than 10 staff members would see a partial raise due to their salary already being very close to the pay range maximum, she explained.

The subtotal of the general pay increase and equity adjustments is predicted to be at approximately $83 million by TASB.

The MCISD board is set to vote on TASB’s recommendations at the regular scheduled board meeting on June 12.

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