Texas teachers hopeful after proposed raise passes Senate

    Texas is in federal court Wednesday attempting to explain why the state spent $33.3 million less on special education in 2011 than the year prior. The cut comes out to about $75 per student.<p>{/p}

    Texas passes a major hurdle after a bill to increase teachers' pay passed the Senate unanimously.

    The bill passed on Monday and would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians over the next two years.

    The El Paso Teachers Association says this is something they have been pushing for.

    “I would say the average right now it's anywhere from $500 to $1,000 that teachers are taking out of their own pocket and taking away from their family and their own needs at home to provide for our students in our classroom,” El Paso Teachers Association President Norma Delarosa said.

    Salaries for Texas teachers start at around $28,000. If this bill is passed, Texas school districts will be entitled to state aid for full-time teachers.

    “What we want to make sure is once that money is distributed to school districts that they don’t have the option as to what they do with that money. It needs to be a pass-through -- which means then that when they get that money they will be required to give the entire amount to all employees in the school district,” Delarosa said.

    The association says the pay raise will help in a variety of ways.

    “With this $5,000 pay raise, it really will help all of our employees to balance and take into effect that increase in health care premiums,” Delarosa said.

    Texas State Rep. Joe Moody told KFOX14 the bill is an important one. “I am sure the House will consider it as a part of the broader conversation about school finance reform. We have a very rare opportunity this session to pass transformative school finance reform, and I’m confident that’s what we will accomplish in the coming months.”

    Local El Pasoans say they support this bill and think it’s important to bring more money to educators.

    “I support it, definitely. Whatever the teachers need, they deserve it, so anything that will help them out,” El Paso resident Yvette Waite said. “It will give them some hope, give them something more to look forward to.”

    “I totally support it and if it benefits the kids with the teachers having more money maybe it will have more resources for the kids as well,” El Paso resident Erica Valenzuela said.

    “I thought it was an excellent thing for teachers since they don’t often receive pay raises, since a lot of the stuff they buy for the students comes from their personal pockets,” El Paso resident Abraham Valenzuela said.

    “They have a hard job. I mean, handling children, teenagers is not easy but I’m all for it for them to get more money for anything else they need,” El Paso resident Pedro Rodriguez said.

    “We do have good teachers so I think it would be fair,” El Paso resident Sandra Cuellar said.

    “They’re our next generation and will lead our country soon so it’s always an honor for the money to go where it should be going,” El Paso resident Anthony Perez said.

    “The immediate benefit is it would be a morale booster for teachers to see that coming through and to know its something to look forward to,” Delarosa said.

    The bill would cost $4 million over the next two years and is now headed the House.

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