PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

August 23, 2013

PAISD approves raises

Teachers to see 2 percent increase

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The Port Arthur Independent School District board of trustees unanimously approved the 2013-14 budget at a meeting at the administration building on Thursday.

“This balanced budget adopts sound business practices,” wrote Interim Superintendent Mark Porterie in a letter to the board. “It is a delicate balance of choices, which weighs the educational needs of students against the ability of the community and the state to provide the necessary financial support to serve them.”

This year, non-exempt (hourly) employees will see a 2.5 percent increase in salary. Teachers will receive a 2 percent raise, with the administration’s salaries set to increase by 1.5 percent, for a total increase of $905,000. The maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate remains at the 2012-13 rate of $1.04, while the Interest and Sinking fund (I&S) has increased from $.3126 to $.3131.

The district has allowed an extra $40,000 for cell phones due to the level of frustration of maintenance workers who were using push to talk phones, said Phyllis Geans, PAISD assistant superintendent for business and finance.

“They weren’t able to communicate,” Geans said. “They might be in an area where they needed to talk to a vendor, and they had to find their foreman because the foreman was the only one who could communicate.”

While PAISD has allowed an increase of $604,452.51 for substitutes, outsourcing the district’s substitute program to Kelly Services has allowed for a reduction of $354,296 in unemployment insurance, Geans said.

“We have done a better job of managing unemployment insurance,” Geans said. “We looked at how we were handling it, and determined that if we called substitute teachers out and they don’t show, we shouldn’t have to pay unemployment insurance for them because it was their own fault.”

Now that Kelly Services will have to bear those costs, Geans said, the district will see a decrease in claims.

“With changes in healthcare reform, we would have to pick up any person that worked 30 or more hours a week and offer them insurance, which would cost over $1 million,” Geans said. “We’re avoiding those costs.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA