PAISD salary increase for new, returning teachers touted as best in region

Published 12:21 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

Port Arthur teachers are making more than ever.

The Port Arthur Independent School District announced during their convocation this week that all new incoming teachers will start with a $50,000 salary, highest in the region.

“We thank our board of trustees for pushing us and asking us to make sure that we are able to compensate all our employees in our district,” PAISD Superintendent Mark Porterie said. “The announcement was that we would start at $50,000 a year for zero experience in the Port Arthur school district, which is terrific because out of the 37 districts in the region, we are the first to reach that salary mark. It is a monumental feat because it’s also during our 120-year celebration.”

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Along with the higher starting salary for new teachers, returning teachers also received a raise, Porterie said.

“We gave an incremental 3 percent raise throughout the district for teachers,” he said. “Every teacher at least received $1,675. We focused on the midpoint, eight years to 21 years to make sure that we were competitive with other districts as well.”

Porterie said PAISD has to stay competitive with surrounding school districts in order to ensure students are receiving top-notch education.

“We have to try to be competitive,” he said. “There are some teachers that received a 3.2 percent raise all the way to 6 percent.”

Kathy Londow, executive director for human resources for PAISD, said raises were individualized.

“Our strategy has always been to look at the individual,” she said. “We don’t have a block of salary increases that are for every single year. We work with the Texas Association of School Board’s compensation specialist and they take a look at each individual salary.

“They try to determine whether or not the salary for the individual teacher is near the midpoint, near the minimum or at the maximum. Those individuals that are the furthest away from the midpoint, be it on the low side or the high side, that’s how we determine the salary that people are going to get. That’s why it is so individualized.”

Porterie said these increases reflect on the district’s hard work to reward their teachers and continue to raise the bar.

“It says a lot about our district that we were able to give a raise,” he said. “We have been able to compensate our teachers for the past five years, every year. We’ve given almost a $7,000 increase from $43,000 to $50,000 since 2014.”

Port Arthur ISD is also the only district in Region 5 that pays into its employees’ Social Security check.

“No matter what type of raise any other district gives, they can’t compete with an extra check once you retire,” Porterie said. “We are still working on our back end, because that is important for those of us that are preparing for retirement. That is one aspect that we have that no other district in our region has.”

Porterie said as the benefits of being a teacher increase for the district, so will the quality of teachers and education.

“We want quality teachers,” he said. “We want to be competitive. We’re not only competing locally, but against Baytown, Goose Creek, Barbers Hill and Houston who are extremely high for a big city, but if we want someone to come to our area we have to at least be able to compensate them.”

Londow said they use the salary structure the way it is set up, along with the Social Security as tools for recruiting.

“People really have to be careful and make sure that they are comparing apples to apples,” she said. “They might be thinking they can go to another school district and make more money, but they aren’t getting the advantage of paying into Social Security for retirement. I always encourage people to determine what will be best for their families by considering all the pieces.”

For Jamie Wilson, in her 12th year as an educator in the district, the increase makes her feel valued.

“This is something I’m very passionate about,” Wilson said. “I’m passionate about reading and about kids. It’s nice to have the monetary support that says we value what you do. I get paid to do what I love. That’s the greatest thing ever. I know that Dr. Porterie fights for his teachers to make this a competitive market to bring in good qualified and certified people.”

Wilson said it was nice to see that not only the new teachers got a big increase to come in, but that they were able to able give something to the returning teachers, as well.

“We spend a lot of our own money on resources and that kind of stuff, so it’s nice to have that compensation back,” she said. “This is a good morale booster to be recognized for what we do.”

Porterie said everything in the district is looking up and they are focusing on being the best they can be.

“We have wonderful teachers,” Porterie said. “We have wonderful employees and we have wonderful students. They may be needy, as most students are across the United States, but we do a great job at attending to the needs of the students.

“We want to compensate our employees for doing a wonderful job with our kids. It’s always great to be able to compensate your people in a business way, because everyone wants to take care of their families.”

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