BROWNVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — The Brownsville Independent School District (ISD) is working on finalizing its budget for the upcoming school year.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act, the district is receiving $185 million in federal ESER III funds over the next three years, of which 20% must be allocated toward addressing learning loss caused by the pandemic.
Due to the difficult year teachers and staff have had, and with the extra grant funds available, Association of Brownsville Educators (AOBE) Staff Organizer Ida Abeldano said it’s time the employees receive increased compensation.
“We need to show our employees how much we value them and that they’re appreciated,” Abeldano said.
During a recent meeting, the school board discussed the budget priorities. According to Superintendent Dr. Rene Gutierrez, a portion of the money Superintendent Dr. Rene Gutierrez will be used for improving the facilities and rewarding employees.
“We’re going to be looking at having extended day enrichment programs, summer academies — anything we can do additionally beyond the normal school day so our kids can catch up,” Gutierrez said.
The school board recently approved a $1200 stipend for employees, however, Abeldano said this amount isn’t enough.
“That’s a good start, but not for the $185 million that is coming in in ESSER III funds,” she said. “It’s nearly not enough for what these people have gone through, for their commitment to the district.
They have gone above and beyond working until all hours 1,2,3 a.m. and having to go to work even though they have people ill in their household.”
The AOBE started a petition for a higher stipend, a five percent raise for all employees, smaller classroom sizes, and reduced workload for counselors — demands Abeldano said are in the district’s best interest.
“We’re losing a lot of the employees due to the difficult year they had because of this pandemic,” she said.
A three percent pay raise for employees is currently on the table, however, Dr. Gutierrez said they are doing everything possible to make sure employees are taken care of.
“That’s what we’re trying to accomplish this coming year is to make sure our employees are paid at market value, they get a raise, and that we continue to be competitive with our salaries,” he said.
The district has until the end of June to approve the budget.
Click here to watch the full budget meeting