In a news release on Monday, May Day, Dallas ISD and several other North Texas school districts sounded a "Mayday" alarm over teacher pay. District officials are encouraging parents, educators and supporters to demand action from their state legislators regarding a boost in funding for public schools.
Time is running out on the regular legislative session, which ends May 29, but Dallas ISD wants lawmakers to act now to "allocate more of the state’s record $32.7 billion surplus to public education."
The appeal comes from roughly a dozen districts in the North Texas area, including Mesquite, Richardson, Frisco and Plano ISDs.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said during a news conference that while lawmakers have designated additional funds this year for public education, it doesn't go far enough, according to the district's news release. At this rate, districts won't be able to increase pay in a significant way for teachers and staff, she said, which is why they're sending a "distress call" to advocates and supporters.
She also posted her entreaty to social media on Monday afternoon.
"Mayday! I am declaring a state of emergency because the budget state lawmakers are negotiating would leave Texas public schools $7b short of what's needed to keep up with inflation. Use this link to tell lawmakers that public schools need help now!" Elizalde wrote in a tweet.
The news release from Dallas ISD notes that Texas saw a 17% increase in inflation from June 2019 to February 2023. When taking inflation into account, current funding in schools hovers around 2014 levels.
Mayday! I am declaring a state of emergency because the budget state lawmakers are negotiating would leave Texas public schools $7b short of what's needed to keep up with inflation. Use this link to tell lawmakers that public schools need help now! https://t.co/tnrRYjazMY— Dr. Stephanie S. Elizalde (@DallasISDSupt) May 1, 2023
Yet expenses like utilities, fuel and insurance have sharply spiked in recent years, the release continued. All the while, a Texas-wide shortage of teachers and staff looms in the background.
Certain lawmakers are working to make such pay increases a reality. House Bill 100 passed the Texas House last week and would boost state funding given to school districts to improve teacher salaries and help cover education costs.
But some representatives don't seem too keen on paying teachers more.
In April, critics blasted state Rep. Jared Patterson, a Frisco Republican, after he mocked educator raises during a debate on the House floor.