MIDLAND, Texas — Increasing teacher pay was a key focus of the MISD board in their recent meeting to approve next year's budget. This objective was achieved as teachers will see an increase to their starting pay that will now be $53,500. Salaries across all the teachers pay schedules will see increases as well as pay to counselors and support staff. 

The recently signed HB 3 is aiding in some of these expenses for MISD, as their budget projects that this new legislation will inject more than $11 million into local schools. MISD will be putting those funds to use to make these salary improvements and district officials say trustees have exceeded all the requirements set forth in HB 3.

The acquisition of land and property was also voted on and approved to address the district's unprecedented growth pains. After tabling a discussion and vote for the purchase of Ranchland Hills Golf Club during the open meeting, the MISD trustees retreated to a two-hour closed executive session meeting. During this closed door meeting a motion was approved for the $9.5 million purchase of Ranchland Hills Golf Club to be utilized for the location of a future school. 

The district had recently negotiated with Ranchland Golf Partners LLC, and had reached an agreement that the cost will include the 116.89 acres of land, as well as any existing facility or building that sits on the property. After the purchase deal is closed, the district will lease the clubhouse and course back to Ranchland Hills for $1, annually, until Nov. 1, 2020. At that time the club must cease all operations and release the property in preparation for the district’s use.

The expenditure has already been budgeted for, according to the district. This does not include any future building or renovation and remodeling costs.

In a sly strategic move to help solve the district's on going battle with teacher recruitment and retention, the board also approved the purchase of two Midland apartment complexes that will be dedicated to teacher housing once the district takes possession. 

The district negotiated with the owners of Simpatico Apartments, located at 2910 W. Michigan Ave., and Town and Country Apartments, located at 3310 Bedford Ave, to purchase their existing 25-unit complexes for a combined $3.2 million. 

The investment will include all of the land and existing buildings and structures and has already been planned for in previous budgeted funds. If the properties require remodeling or renovations there could be additional expenditures 

The district also successfully negotiated a deal with Weidner Apartment Homes recently. As one of the largest apartment owners in the area, Weidner will lower rent and move in costs, such as security deposits and first and last rents for area teachers. 

Looking at the bigger picture of the finalized budget, MISD will be operating on a $389.2 million general fund after paying in over $118 million to the State's recapture or "Robin Hood" fund.