FORNEY, Texas — The Forney Independent School District has approved a measure to increase staff pay on the heels of state lawmakers passage of what they described as monumental school finance and property tax reform bills during the latest legislative session.

The board's approval was made during its June 24th meeting. The measure provides district-wide pay increases for all employees for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed the $11.6 billion House Bill 3 into law earlier this month. The bill includes, in part, some $6.5 billion in public education spending with increased per-student base funding, teacher raises over the next two years, incentives for understaffed rural school districts, implementation of merit pay programs, and a reduction in the state's "Robin Hood" collection from wealthy school districts to subsidize poor districts. Additionally, the bill calls for $5.1 billion in property tax relief and a provision prohibiting tax rate increases of more than 2.5% on a large portion of a district's property tax rates.

Lawmakers estimated an average state-wide school district property tax reduction of 8 cents per $100 property valuation in 2020 and an additional 5 cents in 2021. In the case of Forney ISD, homeowners should see a reduction in 7 cents per $100 property valuation next year, the district stated in a press release Wednesday morning.

Over the last few years, Forney ISD has increased employee pay between 2.5 and 3% with teacher pay increasing almost $7,000 over the last 7 years, according to the district. Starting teacher salary for the 2019-20 school is at $51,600.

“We understand the importance of investing in our staff," stated Forney ISD Superintendent Dr. Justin Terry. "By investing in them we are investing in our students and their futures.”

“Our board voted unanimously on the new compensation plan to show our appreciation in a way that matters to our employees and their families,” he stated.

"The new salary schedule accomplishes this requirement by giving teachers with 4 or less years of experience an $1800 increase and teacher with 5-30 years of experience between $2,100 and $3,300," read the district's release. "This aligns with the new legislative expectations of House Bill 3 to retain experienced staff."

Forney ISD says teachers, librarians and nurses will receive a 5.1% average increase depending on experience; teacher aides will receive 5% pay grade mid-point; custodians and food service workers will receive 9.1% of pay grade mid-point; grounds workers and lead custodians will receive 5.5% of pay grade mid-point; and all other employees will receive 3% of pay grade mid-point.

“Taking care of our staff is a top priority for our board,” stated Forney ISD Board President Greg Pharris. “We have an exceptional staff that work tirelessly for the students in our community, and are the heart of our Forney Family.”