Putting Kids First Means Putting Teachers First Too

The Seguin ISD has placed on the ballot on September 10th a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) asking voters to increase the tax rate by two cents per $100 of property valuation. They state that this additional money is needed in order to fund raises for the district’s teachers and other employees.

There are many concerns present in our community as to the Board of Trustees’ financial management. These concerns make advocating for the TRE difficult at best. We want to make absolutely clear, however, that we stand as one with the employees of Seguin ISD. The mission of the Seguin ISD is to educate our young people. In order to do that effectively, we need to honor, value, and respect our educators. The Seguin ISD Board of Trustees should be making teacher compensation a top priority. Only after that is funded should they concern themselves with other things.

Most people live by a very simple rule: we pay for what we need first. Then we pay for what we want.

Educate Seguin reached out to the district and asked the district’s financial officer to answer some of our questions concerning the budget and the proposed TRE. He has refused a request to meet with us and refused to answer our questions via telephone. This leaves us with the limited facts we can gather from public documents and board meetings:

  • The district’s budget for “Instruction” was over budget by $1.8 million last year. Since teacher pay and staffing levels were set in advance, teacher pay is not the cause. We observe that there are many large payments to “consultants” listed in the district’s check register over the last year. We suspect this is the reason for the deficit in this budget category.
  • The Board of Trustees approved funds to pay for a variety of “supplemental” expenses last year such as:
    • $21,000 for golf carts
    • $15,000 for holiday parties
    • $40,000 for additional payments to district attorneys
    • $500 hotel rooms for board members and administrators
  • The Board of Trustees also approved funds this year to pay up to $1.5 million for a new scoreboard at Matador Stadium. The teacher pay raises would cost $1.4 million this fiscal year.

Teachers should be a top priority, and their raises should be implemented immediately. The district and the voters can then have a conversation prior to the TRE vote on September 10 about how best to meet the district’s needs in the future. Approving the pay raises now demonstrates to district staff and the voters that the Board of Trustees is serious about educating our students and respecting our teachers and other personnel.

The narrative from the district is “if you support teachers, you should support the tax increase.” The community fully supports teachers, and we are certain it will do what is necessary. However, there are many questions about the district’s budget and the need for a TRE that they are refusing to answer. We will continue to ask those questions and we call on the district to answer them. We have a responsibility, as Educate Seguin, to educate the community on this issue. That’s our mission.

In closing, we will simply emphasize that our teachers should be a top priority. We have heard trustees say this themselves. Now they need to act on their words. We understand that there are many challenges in funding and that money for teacher pay needs to be available not just this year but into the future. However, we also know that the district has the funds available, right now, to give our teachers and staff the raises they need and deserve. There is no excuse for leaving them and their families to twist in the wind, waiting on the results of the TRE. We call on the district to align its budget with its stated priorities. Give our teachers and district staff what they deserve. Today. Do What’s Right.

Together, we can do better.

Bob Stephens

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11 thoughts on “Putting Kids First Means Putting Teachers First Too

    1. Thank you, Bob! Excellently written article! Thank you for bringing facts to light and keeping our community informed. I would also like to examine the ability and inclination of the Seguin ISD to schedule a community wide vote that impacts taxpayers at any given time of the year and to assign polling places that are advantageous to their cause.

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  1. I find it ironic no one ever nick picked Garza’s time as super??? Yes it is important to watch how the school district uses tax payers money, but some are making Seguin look like fools. As a son of a life time teacher I truly agree teachers pay is important. And we have some great teachers who need to be rewarded.

    Where were y’all when the new high school building process was being drafted. There in millions of dollars being pissed away. One example is why we have a general contractor who has no way to be bonded for this job. The true contractor is building high schools else where with out a smaller contractor needed???

    I commend what y’all are trying to accomplish. I know not all teachers and tax payers are against Rome, and some feel true change is the best for Seguin. The last decade we sat back and let of our school system strive for average at best. Making the SA news about every expenditure the school makes will keep Seguin looking average and dis functional.

    Let’s try voicing our options to our school board rep and leave the news out of it. Seguin needs to strive for good press and great student performance.

    But what do I know I went to Navarro.

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    1. Mark, I agree,
      The mob mentality that showed itself at the last meeting was really embarrassing. The hate, disrespect and name calling that is on Facebook does absolutely nothing to help. If you ever wondered why Seguin gets such a bad reputation, look at how it appears from the outside. Would you move here if you were a well educated, well informed person???
      I might suggest that all you people that love to trash talk, think about where you are getting your information from. It seems interesting to me that some of the most negative voices are from people that don’t even live here or have kids in SISD; nor do they possess the facts about how the education system works. It is complicated, lots of red tape, and a bureaucracy(TEA) that makes it rather challenging to accomplish what we want to achieve.
      Add to that the fact that our society chooses to ask our schools to feed their kids, cloth them, give them supplies, be mentors and counselors, give them the tools of life that their parents can’t or won’t provide, and then find the time to finally teach them about the world around them. I agree that our teachers should be paid 10 times what they get paid. Give back their paddles and switches to keep order in their class rooms and the power to expel students without fear of repercussions from anyone. But that’s another topic for another day.
      So, I am taking another approach. I ask questions and talk with persons that are in the schools; that have the actual(facts) so I can understand what goes into the decision making process at the schools.
      It appears The board, staff and superintendent are all trying to make positive changes. I don’t see them as evil. Nor are they criminals, or disrespectful or divisive as some of you would have us believe. This is the most progressive board I can remember. Could it be even more progressive? Yes. Are there some members that need to move on? Yes.
      Please remind yourselves that we are battling decades of indecision and poor planning. This will not be fixed over night. We brought Mr. Roan here to help. Give the guy a chance.
      If you think you have the answers, please run for a seat at the table.
      Oh yeah, and you won’t get paid, you will give up a lot of your personal/family time, you will go to conferences, meetings, read lots of data and information to educate yourself of how things work, and then you will be hated by lots of people and told how you should have done it differently.
      Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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  2. You say education is important, but they have one speech therapist for seguin elementary schools, therefore my son didn’t get the therapy that he much needed last year. So in short I’m not saying that the teachers don’t need a raise, but at least one more therapist. Just saying.

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    1. I don’t understand why some parents believe that it’s the school responsibility to take care of every aspects of their child’s development. Speech therapy is important for your child’s development and this can also be provided by you as a parent. People just rely on the school for too much. Teacher should spend more time educating and not doing everything else that parents could & should handle. We as parents gets off the hook for too much & we dump everything off on the school. Pay our teachers more, it’s not a reward…. It’s earned & deserve. They do more for our children that we can’t even imagine. They do what most of us cannot or fail to do everyday. Teachers are not regarded on the pay scale as they should & I strongly agree paying them well is priority. Our schools & teachers hands are rooted in defining our future. Pay them well! As educators, their jobs…. duties & responsibilities are challenging. Pay Them! Teachers production of services are priceless & unmeasurable! Pay them well! Why is this even a issue? I’m not a teacher, but a parents who deeply appreciate all that our schools and teachers have put forth for developing our children & our future selfs & leaders. We are so privilege!

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  3. I am an employee of the district, so obviously if the TRE passes it would be in my favor because, in the job I do, we’re paid about 15% LESS vs surrounding school districts . The way the superintendent presented to us is that if the TRE passes, the tax rate will be $1.42, and if the TRE fails then the tax rate will be $1.43. Has to do with the maintenance and operation tax rate versus the interest and sinking tax rate. There is obviously abuse of the budget and how funds are allocated, and that certainly needs to be addressed. But if this thing passes and it results in the lower tax rate, isn’t that a good thing?

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    1. I wish it were that simple. I am still trying to research this, but in fact the lowering of the I&S rate, which is what makes the increase 1 penny instead of 2, is totally at the board’s discretion. They could do it. Or they could not. That’s not on the ballot. Also, if you look at the district’s debt obligations, there is no way they can keep the I&S rate that low because their payments are about to go up significantly.

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      1. So , just my take on this tax increase, is this….Everyone wants a teachers’ pay increase, so instead of being fiscally responsible and just doing it, the board and the superintendent are bullying the public into a tax increase to fund it. Also, how can we get transparency regarding the Seguin ISD budget. Is there a way?

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  4. Funding for Seguin High School has been flat for the last 10 years, we have had no growth in student population during that time. Have your expenses increased in the last 10 years? Mine have. Food, Gas, Electricity, basic necessities have increased. So do you think that possibly our schools that are state funded might have difficulties. There has been a freeze on pay raises statewide since 2005. Seguin Teachers have been given a small bonus every year since then. I’m not saying it was huge, but it was something even though there was a freeze. This is the chance for our SISD to reward the teachers. We as a community will also get tax reduction.. I don’t get it. Why would you not vote yes for this? Teachers will stand to gain a 4% pay raise. You all speak about doing what is right. This is right. Don’t let your problems with one man hurt all of the wonderful teachers and employees in this district. I am just amazed by the attitudes that I am seeing. Do we not want anything positive to happen just because you do not like the Superintendent? Search you heart and do the right thing here.

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  5. Funding for SISD has been flat for the last 10 years. Why? Population has not increased in our town so therefore no new funding. There is not a shortfall in funding because it has been mismanaged, the cost of doing business has increased. Can you imagine your household if you had not had a pay increase in the last 10 years? Gas, Food, Electricity, Transportation, Healthcare costs? All have increased.
    I also have to say I wonder why our population has stayed the same for so long? No growth, no new ideas, stagnant ideas? Pretty sure that had been the case.
    We were recently told that our population has increased to 30,000. We have new development in our city, a refurbished hotel, the downtown area is being revitalized, we have a beautiful new Library about to open. An amazing New High School. I have so many things to tell prospective buyers who are thinking of moving to this town. Our school scores are on the rise, we have new vision in the Athletics department. We have a new grammy award winning Band Director. People are excited to go see what the football team is going to do! New food service at the cafeterias (my picky daughter says its great). I’m so impressed with Jim Barnes Middle School teachers and the Band Department. My teacher friends are happy with the new supportive administration. I could go on and on.
    Pay raises for teachers were frozen in 2005 statewide. SISD has been giving the teachers small bonuses each year since. The TRE (Tax Ratification Election) is our chance as a community to give our teachers a much needed pay raise of 4%, along with a $1/Hour increases to other essential staff. We as a community get a 1% reduction in taxes.. I do not see a downside here. Whatever you feel personally about our Superintendent, a vote against this is a vote against a teacher pay raise. I think they should make 10x what they make now. A few disgruntled individuals have made a laughing stock of our wonderful community. Please vote your conscience here. Its as though the people who oppose our Board of Trustees and Superintendent want nothing good to happen so that they can force them out.
    Vote for the TRE, Voting is open at the Central Administration office every day.

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