The Fort Worth Independent School District passed its 2021-2022 budget on Tuesday and approved raises for all employees.
The district’s Board of Education approved the 4% compensation increase in an effort to attract and retain teachers and employees. The board approved the measure 8-0 with one abstaining vote.
Steven Pool, executive director of the United Educators Association, said district employees have worked hard over the past year and handled the pandemic with grace. He said it makes Fort Worth ISD and careers in education desirable.
“It’s needed and it’s what we promised the voters last fall when they voted for a tax increase,” he said.
The raise will cost approximately $32 million, according to district reports.
The board unanimously approved its 2021-2022 budget.
The district’s tax rate will remain relatively the same, but the average homeowner will likely pay more in taxes than the previous year.
The tax rate for this year is $1.375400 per $100 value. This is a decrease from the $1.378400 rate a year ago.
However, appraised and taxable values of all property in the county have increased about 8.5%, and the average taxes due by residence have increased nearly 6%.
A homeowner with a $300,000 property value and a homestead exemption may pay just over $4,000 in taxes to the district.
State and federal funds
State funding for the school district has decreased for 2021-2022, with Fort Worth ISD receiving about $33 million less than it did for the 2020-2021 general fund and received no funding for virtual instruction.
However, the district received more than $260 million from the federal government through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
Deputy superintendent Karen Molinar said district surveys showed that students, parents and teachers are eager to return to in-person learning, but want mental health resources for students, additional support for teachers and smaller class sizes.
She said these resources can be achieved through federal funds, which are designated to address learning recovery and the impact of the pandemic.
“This type of funding is something we’ll probably never see again,” Molinar said. “We need to make sure we’re utilizing it correctly.”
She said the funds can also be used for tutoring, blended instruction, increased teacher capacity, social emotional learning support and more.