The Rio Grande City CISD School board approved raises for staff. It did not however, come without a lengthy discussion.
Board member Basilio “Bacho” Villarreal addressed the board, “Mr. President I want to make a motion that we do away with the compensation plan that’s presented and instead adopt a plan where if you work 20 plus years in our district you get $4,500. If you work 6 years or more you get $4,000. If you work less than 6 years you get $3,500 and this applies to all teachers, all administrators, all librarians, and all counselors. I also move that we give paraprofessionals $2,000 if they have 6 year’s experience and $1,500 if they have less than 6 years.”
“We do have monies coming from the federal government, monies from workman’s comp, we have lawsuits monies that would more than suffice to pay for these raises. I think our district did a tremendous job in bringing us from a letter C to a letter B. Our teachers, administrators, everybody, the whole family did a great job and I think everyone should be compensated appropriately, “ he continued uninterrupted. Board member Eduardo “Eddie” Ramirez said, “I will definitely second that motion.” The pair were part of the members that were completely opposed to a bonus right before Christmas that would have given RGCCISD staff additional monies right before the holidays.
President Eleazar Velasquez called for CFO Diana Robles to present the recommended raises. After hearing the presentation Villarreal reminded Velasquez, he had a motion. Board members that voted to approve his proposal were Noe Castillo and Ramirez although it was unclear how Leticia “Letty” Lopez had voted. Velasquez allowed for discussion. Dr. Daria Babineaux asked Robles where the salaries of RGCCISD stood in comparison of other districts. Robles explained that before the raise their teachers had an average salary of $52,000 but she had not done the math to get an average after the raises. Villarreal asked for the starting salary for a teacher in their district. Human Resources Director Arcadio Salinas answered that it was $43,000. He states La Joya ISD starts their teachers at $49,500, Sharyland ISD at $46,075, and Roma ISD $45,500. Villarreal brought up starting salaries for McAllen ISD and Mission ISD as he continued to lobby for higher raises. He stressed the last raise given to teachers was about four years ago. A salary that some current board members believe crippled the finances of the district.
Babineaux requested clarification from Salinas that the numbers he was giving did not include raises since those are starting salaries. She highlighted that starting salary is not far from Roma ISD. He further explained that an adjustment to starting salaries was also on the agenda that would make the district comparable to those around Starr County. Salinas also explained that Mission ISD has a reason to be competitive since they are surrounded by other districts. Babineaux also requested what the deficit would be for the upcoming year, more than $5 million 780 thousand and change before highlighted the amount of additional air conditioning unit there were to repair. “I’m all about making sure our teachers are rewarded. I agree and they do a fabulous job. We are trying to make sure the deficit we are given and that with the budget we have to work with that everyone across the board receives what they should. When I ran for the school board to make sure kids have the things that they needed to have as well. I don’t think a teacher in this room would say that they don’t agree that kids also deserve to have equipment, facilities, curriculum; all those things that make it better for them. Afterall isn’t that why we are all here? We are trying our best…” Stressed Dr. Daria Babineaux.
Villarreal continued to lobby using expenditures he did not agree with and giving the figure of $6 million dollars in federal monies. Superintendent Vilma Garza said that at a recent conference, administrators were cautioned over those funds because guidelines have not been disclosed on the use of the funds. As she finished up the discussion Villarreal claimed that because she received a raise that administrators should get the same. Garza countered that her salary was less than the past Superintendents. Villarreal gave a passionate speech on why those administrators earning more than $100k deserved a raise too before Velasquez interjected, “Ever since I came onboard, I’m for raises. I’ve said it before we need to be competitive with the surrounding districts. We cannot continue to lose good teachers… But as a businessman we cannot count on money we do not have yet. Let’s wait for those funds to be in our bank account.” Velasquez asked that the Superintendent and CFO made an effort to visit every campus to make a presentation to teachers.
In the end Velasquez called for a vote on the original motion made by Villarreal but it was not approved by the majority. Velasquez then called for a vote on the recommended raises. It was passed by majority vote although Villarreal, Ramirez, and Castillo abstained from voting which did not change the overall outcome.
Teachers, Librarians, Counselors and Nurses
0-5 years of experience $2,500
6-12 years of experience $3,500
13- 19 years of experience $4,000
20 + years of experience $4,500
Central Office Administrators
$1,000 with the exception of those earning more than $100k. They would not be eligible for a raise.
Paraprofessionals and Auxiliary