To reward Palestine Independent School District teachers and employees for jobs well-done, members of the Palestine school board doubled this year's state-mandated pay increases.

A multi-billion-dollar school finance bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbot in June required Palestine schools to spend at least $1.3 million on raises for teachers. PISD school board members, however, ear marked $2.58 million instead – and gave raises to all employees.

Statewide, teachers began the school year with an average pay increase of $4,000. PISD teachers received raises from $5,000 to $6, 575, depending on years of service.

“As a board, we visit campuses often and see how hard everyone works,” school board member Davi Killion Ingram told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “It takes the whole staff to provide the excellent education that PISD provides. We felt like everyone deserved it.”

In addition to the raise, some PISD employees also will receive retention bonuses, from $100 to $500 for every year of service.

“Rural school districts like ours can't compete with what urban areas are able to pay,” PISD spokesperson Larissa Loveless told the Herald-Press Monday. “But we take care of our people, and we are committed to doing the right thing.”

From maintenance workers to school administration, the state-funded raises provide pay increases from just under four percent to 19 percent.

“We really need to thank Superintendent Jason Marshall, Chief Financial Officer David Atkinson, and Suzanne Eiben from human resources,” Loveless said. “They went to the school board and spoke on behalf of the entire PISD family.”

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