BCISD leads Central Texas in compensation, benefits; report details salaries, turnover, workplace quality

By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Ahead of large area school districts such as Georgetown and Liberty Hill ISD, Burnet CISD was able to offer its staff the highest starting salary and best benefits package in Central Texas for the 2019-2020 school year.

“The Board and Administration are very excited that Burnet CISD leads the Hill Country in compensation and benefits for our staff,” said Superintendent Keith McBurnett. “Being a leader in these two areas did not happen by accident, but rather it is a product of purposeful planning, and setting priorities during the budget development process. The Board set the vision, and charged the Administration to make it happen.”

Director of Human Resources Michele Gilmore and her team contracted with the Texas Association of School Boards to review the salaries of all positions in the school district and compared the data with that of the market in the area, and over the past five years, staff has been able to provide over $2 million in salary increases for BCISD employees.

At the Sept. 16 Burnet CISD board meeting, Gilmore presented an HR Spotlight report to trustees, highlighting the district's compensation victories and statistics regarding teacher retention and turnover rates.

“Burnet CISD is proud to be amongst the leaders in the Hill Country and Central Texas for total salary increases and overall compensation,” Gilmore said. “The board of trustees is committed to providing salary increases each year to our staff.”
For the 2019-2020 school year, starting salary for new teachers is $48,100; existing teachers and librarians were given a seven-percent midpoint general pay increase; and other staff members were given a five-percent midpoint general pay increase.

The board approved the increase of the district's contribution for health insurance for staff to $385 and increased dental insurance. The district also provides a 403(b) matching contribution, $1 for every $2 contributed by the employee up to two percent of their monthly salary, and a $30,000 life insurance policy plus a $30,000 AD&D policy.

Eligible employees are also given free health, dental, vision, and telehealth insurance, something the district tries to maintain to keep the stress of healthcare off its employees' shoulders.

“I am especially pleased that we are able to offset the state-mandated cost increase of health insurance for our staff, so that when they do get a pay increase, it is not diminished by an increase in health insurance premiums,” McBurnett said.

Before the beginning of the school year, the district, along with various students, parents, and members of the community developed a strategic plan for the upcoming year, which was divided into four parts, one being educator quality. Through this part of the plan, the district compared data pertaining to teacher retention and turnover rates throughout Burnet CISD, other districts, and at the state level.

The teacher turnover rate state average is 19.8 percent for a school district with 3,000 to 4,999 students and Burnet CISD's teacher turnover rate for the 2017-2018 school year was 19.5 percent; in this percentage is taken into account employees that earn a promotion within the district and adding additional positions. The turnover rate at Marble Falls ISD in the same time frame was 24.6 percent, and at Liberty Hill ISD was 24.4 percent.

“To gain a better understanding of the teacher turnover rate, BCISD tracks employees that are resigning,” Gilmore said.

Upon resignation, employees are given an exit survey in which they are asked to state their reason for leaving the district. These reasons include retirement, relocation due to a spouse's occupation, position advancement, career, change in health/family, better compensation, dissatisfaction, and moving closer to home.

At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, of 28 resignations, five were due to retirement, eight were due to a spouse's relocation, two were position advancements, one was a career change, four teachers left due to health/family reasons, three left because of dissatisfaction, and five moved closer to home. Zero teachers left the school district for better compensation.

Retention of its employees is important to the district, and along with great salary and benefits, staff members are supported in many other ways.

“We recognize that working conditions are just as important to recruiting and retaining outstanding staff members,” McBurnett said. “To support our teachers specifically, we have added an instructional coach at each of our comprehensive campuses, along with two additional instructional partners that are focused on being an extra set of hands for teachers.”

Along with the five instructional coaches and 10 total instructional partners, the district has enlisted the help of two curriculum coordinators, and an intervention counselor to provide staff with more resources.

“Burnet CISD understands that retention cannot solely focus on compensation and benefits,” Gilmore said. “We also want to make sure that our campus culture shines through with Spirit, Pride and Honor and recognize employees through the Gem of Appreciation. Each campus is provided a campus survival guide and we send out staff surveys to gain a better understanding of employee needs.”

Teachers are also known to spend a considerable amount of their personal money for classroom needs, and the district wanted to take that burden from its staff's shoulders, contributing to each individual educator.

“Knowing that teachers too often spend money out of their own pockets for their classrooms, this year the district provided every teacher with $50 of instructional classroom enhancement funds that can be used how they choose for their classroom,” McBurnett said. “These funds are on top of the existing department budgets or grade level budgets that every campus has to support teachers.”

Burnet CISD recognizes that teachers and other staff members are crucial to the development of the minds and futures of the thousands of students in their care, and much of their budget is geared towards keeping staff adequately cared for.

“A majority of our budget is used to fund staff, and it is our staff that make a difference in the lives of our students,” McBurnett said. “We believe as a district, it is the greatest investment we can make.”

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