Monday, July 27, 2009

Texas Lawmakers Promise $800 Raise for Teachers

Texas public school teachers can expect an $800 pay raise this year now that $2 billion in economic stimulus money has been approved and is available to the state, Democratic Texas lawmakers in Washington announced Friday.
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, a senior member of the Education and Labor committee, read a statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling the money "part of the single largest boost in education funding in recent history."
The program involves a one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Texas has already received $1.7 billion in education stimulus funds, and the state is eligible to apply for $1 billion more this fall, according to information from Hinojosa's office.
"All 12 Democrats worked with the secretary of education under the leadership of our chair, Ruben Hinojosa, to make sure that those teachers will get that money. And maybe the governor now will say something nice about the stimulus money that's actually providing for that $800," Rep. Gene Green said.
The approval of the state's stimulus plan should end a feud between the Houston Independent School District and the Houston Federation of Teachers. The teachers' union had threatened to take the district to court over the mandatory pay raise included in the stimulus plan.
The raise was supposed to come on top of the extra seniority pay that teachers typically receive. But the district decided last month to scale back that seniority pay for about 1,350 teachers getting a raise greater than 5 percent.
In a statement released by his office, Gov. Rick Perry said he was pleased Texas' application for funds was approved, and that it "will help increase public school funding, providing each school a minimum additional $120 per student."
"Providing quality education to our state's school children continues to be a top priority. Texas lawmakers appropriated this money, along with more than $30 billion in state funds, to enhance educational excellence in our state," Perry said.
Hinojosa said he asked Duncan how long teachers will have the raise, and said it likely could be two years.

Source: Houston Chronicle

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