Despite of state budget cuts, the Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District board of trustees has approved raises for every employee this year.
It was a shock for many employees at their welcome back meeting because when the legislature went into special session, school districts across the state were guessing what to cut, not expecting left over money.
Lubbock-Cooper ISD expected $3 million to be cut from their budget, but in the end they lost only $1.7 million. So they gave every employee a raise of about $640 a year on average.
Clay Kennedy has been teaching for 13 years and couldn't believe they were getting a raise, because at the end of school year he was uncertain about his job. He taught students who struggled in course work and state exams in the BEST program, but that program was eliminated by the state.
To be able to keep employees like Kennedy, Superintendent Pat Henderson had to slash the budget. That meant giving other employees incentives to leave and shuffling around positions.
"We cut all of our campuses by 25% and all our departments by 30%, and we offered an early exit incentive program for people that were thinking about retirement. We gave them an incentive of 20% of base pay," Henderson said.
In order to do that, Henderson said employees were paid out of the employee benefit fund to be used for self insurance.
He said he was going to do anything he could to make sure nobody lost their job.
"We cut our overhead central office by $350,000. We did not replace three full-time administrators and an assistant superintendent. We are going on bare bones, but we will still get the job done," said Henderson.
However, Henderson didn't want the current employees to go home with less money than they received last year. In fact, health insurance premiums increased by about $500 a year for each employee, which is why they insisted on the raise.
"For instance the state base is $27,320. We start our teachers at $32,000 so they are already getting $5,000 above state base. Their increase will be a little more than other steps. Some of the other steps go up to $1,200 dollars. The average increase will be $640 dollars," said Henderson.
With the school year starting in two weeks, Kennedy says he is now happy he will be going home with a little extra money and a job as an art teacher at Lubbock-Cooper Middle School.
Lubbock Cooper will open their new elementary and middle school this year, because of that they hired 12 more employees. They say even with the new hires and raises, their payroll is $440,000 dollars less than last year.
Copyright 2011. KCBD NewsChannel 11.