Dr. Lamont Smith

Superintendent Lamont Smith of the Elkhart Independent School District. 

An added $4 million for Palestine's two school districts under House Bill 3 will fund raises for not only teachers but also non-teaching support staff, school officials said this week.

With more money to spend on support for student programs, local school districts are raising pay for support staff by as much as $1,500 per year to meet cost-of-living increases, even though HB 3 does not require it.

Support staff includes maintenance and cafeteria workers, custodians, paraprofessionals, secretaries, technology employees, and workers who assist in administrative functions.

Members of the Elkhart school board want to “encourage a spirit of collaboration by treating all employees like family,” Superintendent Lamont Smith said.

Elkhart plans to grant all support staff raises of $1,500, while raising salaries of teachers, administrators, and directors by a minimum of $3,000.

“We wanted to be sure each employee receives an increase,” Smith said.

Westwood Superintendent Wade Stanford also touted the importance of support staff. “It takes everyone we have to make sure our kids succeed,” he said.

HB 3, passed in June, will cover teacher raises of $3,000 to $6,000 a year, depending on the number of steps, or years of experience, as outlined by the Texas Education Agency.

Librarians, nurses, and counselors are paid according to the teachers’ pay scale.

Altogether, Palestine Independent School District will receive $3 million; Westwood will receive $1 million. Smith declined to say how much Elkhart would get.

Each district will receive a different portion of HB 3 funds, depending on its size and the population it serves.

The Palestine and Westwood districts also have announced plans to raise teachers’ pay above the minimum required by HB3, and to raise support staff wages by similar amounts.

Elkhart and Palestine schools offer additional bonuses, or performance-related stipends, of $1,500 at the end of the calendar year.

For more information about HB 3, visit www.tea.texas.gov.