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First-time teachers in Texarkana Independent School District will start at $43,000 in the fall, thanks to Texas House Bill 3 and the district's Board of Trustees' approval of salary increases district-wide.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, the board approved the 2019-20 tax rate and budget, which includes the new pay scale as directed by the bill passed during the 86th session of the Texas Legislature.

"It is very exciting for our teachers," Board President Fred Norton Jr. said. "It gives us tremendous resources for us to continue to have the best and the brightest."

Superintendent Paul Norton said the teachers and staff deserve the additional funding.

"It is their love and compassion for our students that sets them apart," he said. "They see the potential, encourage the effort, teach the skills and give love so that every child knows they are a valued member of our Tiger Family."

The bill gives schools additional per-student funding, along with monies for employee raises district-wide. That includes teacher salaries ranging from $43,000 to a maximum of $63,000. Teachers will receive salary increases from 10 percent to 17 percent, depending on their years of experience. Other district staff will receive a 5 to 7 percent midpoint raise. Additional personnel and resources have also been added in the budget to support teachers in curriculum and instruction, special services for dyslexia and 504 requirements, along with teacher positions to reduce class sizes in targeted areas. Teachers who prepare students for college readiness will also receive Dual Credit stipends.

HB 3 also increased the basic annual allotment per student from $5,140 to $6,160.

Trustees also approved the 2019-20 budget and proposed tax rate. It shows general fund revenue as $68.97 million with projected expenses of $68.92 million and a fund balance change of $51,113.

The HB 3 funding will allow the tax rate to be reduced from $1.425 to $1.3233, with $1.0683 for maintenance and operations and $.255 for interest and sinking.

In other business, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with Texarkana College for college prep mathematics and English courses. As directed by HB 5, TC offers math and English for students who are unsuccessful on the TSI, ACT or SAT exam. Students who pass these classes will fulfill the entrance exam requirements in place of those exams, which will eliminate the need for remedial courses their freshman year of college.

The board also approved moving next month's meeting date to July 25.

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