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'You can't be going into it for the money': Local school districts compete for starting salaries

Teacher salaries
Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 18:44:31-04

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — School districts have to compete with one another in order to keep teachers on their payroll, and the 25 News team met with some local districts on how they’re hiring educators, and what they’re doing to keep them in your neighborhood.

  • A bump in pay is one way districts are dealing with the national teacher shortage.
  • Waco ISD offers a five thousand dollar sign on bonus for certified teachers, counselors, librarians, and library media specialists hired before July 1
  • Not including bonuses, Temple pays the most, at $53,000 per year, and Waco ISD is $52,975
  • Both Waco ISD and Temple ISD said their turnover rates have dropped in the past few years and retention rates are higher


“I’ve just always known that I want to work with kids, and I have a big heart for kids,” Payton O’Bryant said.

Payton O’Bryant has been teaching in the Waco Independent School District for three years.

She plans to continue inspiring the minds of her second graders, but a deciding factor in that, is the pay.

“It definitely makes living expenses easier — for me there’s no struggle with our finances in that area," O'Bryant said.

"I make enough to be able to cover, you know, everything, and be able to save money."

One thing helping her save money, is the $5,000 sign on bonus from Waco ISD.

“Why are you offering sign on bonuses? What we really want to have here is our teachers that have years of experience, so we want to recruit them to come work with us," Daniel Lopez said.

"We know that when teachers have years of experience, they are able to educate our kids in a stronger, more effective way."

A bump in pay is one way districts are dealing with the national teacher shortage.

Lopez is with Waco ISD, and says that they have more than 90 percent of staff hired, but they’re still looking for about 50 teachers for next year — Temple ISD needs 24.

“It’s all about creating an environment where people want to stay,” Donna Ward said.

Ward is with Temple ISD, and says they do their best to stay competitive with larger districts, by creating a good culture for their teachers and by comparing pay.

“If we’re wanting to be competitive with Belton or with Killeen, we can see what they’re paying so that we know what would be a fair market value for teachers as well,” Ward said.

25 News reporter Dominique Leh did some digging, to find out what the starting pay for educators is in the region, not including bonuses.

Temple pays the most, at $53,000 per year and Waco ISD is $52,975.

On the low end, the College Station and Bryan ISD pay is $51,000.

Although O’Bryant isn’t struggling now, she says money shouldn’t be a driving factor for future teachers.

“You can’t be going into it for the money, like no, I didn’t get into this profession thinking I’m going to be a millionaire," O'Bryant said.

"No — I went into the profession because I want to work with kids.”

Both Waco ISD and Temple ISD say their turnover rates have dropped in the past few years, and retention rates are higher.