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Austin ISD announces pay increase after special education department resignations

At least 29 special education resignations have taken place since August.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, Austin ISD (AISD) officials addressed the at least 29 resignations that have occurred in the district's special education department since August, announcing a pay increase to begin in March. 

AISD officials announced the pay increase for special education teachers and assistant teachers at a press conference on Tuesday, including a $500 stipend increase and signing bonuses.

KVUE spoke with two speech language pathologists last month, who said they resigned because they were tired of being underpaid and overworked. At least 29 resignations have taken place since the start of the school year.

"It is with sadness that I resign," Melissa Mathews said before the AISD Board of Trustees in October. "I can no longer financially afford to stay and the climate in SPED [special education] was untenable."

Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the union that represents AISD employees, said the district's lack of action is not only detrimental to staff, it's also taking away from students.

"It's about kids who need support, that this district has institutionally ignored those needs by not putting investment into the special ed department," he said.

AISD responded to KVUE's request for a statement on Jan. 30:

"AISD values its employees and routinely conducts a market analysis to make salary adjustments to positions including those in special education. Our commitment to valuing our employee’s compensation is reflected in recent market adjustments within the police department, substitutes manual trades, and our historic 6 percent pay increase for all employees and a 7% increase for teachers, librarians and counselors with more than five years of experience this year. We also set the standard in Texas with our comprehensive benefits package. This year we anticipate focusing on market adjustment to positions such as those special education."

Tuesday's press conference started at 11 a.m.

AISD administrators sent staffers a letter on Tuesday regarding the new plan. Read it below:

special education experience for our students and families. We also value all of our employees who work endlessly to serve our students. For thisreason, as soon as March, we will be implementing market adjustments for several ofthe positions that work with the growing number of students served by specialeducation.

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