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Teacher pay increases and stipends will range from 6% to 22% at Pleasant Grove Independent School District this year, thanks to state funding.

"This plan overall increases the salary for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses by an average of $7,414," said PGISD Director of Finance Derick Sibley. "For a first-year teacher, total compensation is $37,600. For a teacher with 25 years of experience, the total compensation is $60,000."

The plan was approved at a special meeting of the PGISD Board of Trustees on Thursday.

Sibley said the raises reflect funding from House Bill 3, recently passed by the 86th session of the Texas Legislature.

He said the salary schedule represents an increase in teacher pay from 6 percent to 22 percent, a 6 percent pay raise for all auxiliary staff and a 4 percent raise for administrators.

"One of the biggest goals that we had was that we want to be competitive in the market to draw the best teachers into the district and we feel like this increase will do that," he said. "We are thankful to the state for allowing us to do this because without that extra funding, we would not be having this conversation today."

Sibley said he and Superintendent Chad Pirtle worked together to develop the salary plan, which includes stipends as part of the compensation.

Including the stipends will protect the teachers and the district, he said, if the state's funding plan is not sustainable for the long term. Sibley added that there are many unknowns in how the state will implement the plan, including the funding model itself and how the Texas Comptroller's Office will evaluate district property appraisals.

"The risk of getting those estimates wrong could greatly affect our budget," he said. "Mr. Pirtle and I have developed a plan that we feel will allow us to remain competitive and allow us to significantly increase the compensation for our teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses. It allows the district to do these things and lessen the risk to the district."

Sibley also said the district's pay scale is above the state minimum schedule with the stipends added.

"We have chosen to include the stipend as part of the compensation because of the unknowns with HB 3," he said. "We do not anticipate having to remove or lessen the stipend or reduce the total compensation in future years. However, with the unknowns previously mentioned, we want to be fiscally responsible."

He added that if funding were not to remain sustainable, as many experts are saying, the strategy will give the district the flexibility to cope with that loss without having to cut personnel.

After the board passed the plan, Pirtle thanked them for doing so.

"I truly believe that Pleasant Grove ISD teachers and staff deserve to be compensated well for their outstanding work with our students and the plan approved tonight accomplishes that goal," Pirtle said. "I think it's going to impact our teachers big time and I think it's going to impact our district big time, also. I just think this plan is a representation of the high level of commitment that Pleasant Grove places on education."

In other action, the board approved stipend increases for academic UIL coaches at the high school from $100 per event to $2,000 for speaking events and $1,500 for all other events. The increases will impact the budget about $30,000, Pirtle said.

He told the board that the coaches usually go to five meets per school year and that the increases will generate excitement for teachers to coach the students with the goal of winning the UIL Lone Star Cup. It is awarded annually to six high schools, one in each of the six UIL classifications based on their team performance in district and state championships. The winning schools in each classification receive the UIL Lone Star Cup trophy and a $1,000 scholarship.

PG High School won sixth place in the Lone Star Cup 4-A standings for 2015, with representations in team and individual sports and non-athletic competitions, including state academic meet and one-act play.

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