Killeen — Teachers in Killeen will soon be seeing a bump in their salaries.
On Tuesday night, Killeen ISD's school board unanimously approved a two percent pay raise for teachers and other district employees.
The board also approved the hiring of engineers and architects to complete school construction and renovation plans laid out in the $426 million bond program.
More than 50 educators packed the school board meeting, eager to learn how the school board would vote.
The meeting kicked off with around 10 district employees taking turns addressing the school board - sharing their personal stories of how challenging it is for them to make ends meet with their current paychecks.
One of those speakers was Susie Moreland who is a Special Education Teacher's Assistant at Timber Ridge Elementary.
Moreland said she loves her job but barely makes enough to survive.
"Eight hundred and seventy-one dollars, that's how much gets deposited into my account every month. How am I supposed to pay attention to the children that I'm working with if I'm struggling to meet my basic needs, keep a roof over my head and keep food on the table," Moreland said.
School board members listened to more stories just like Moreland's throughout the night. The board then deliberated for about two hours before deciding to approve the two percent raise proposal.
District Spokesperson Terry Abbott said teachers will receive a pay raise of about $1,000 each and starting teacher salaries will jump to $47,000.
Abbott said it's all about making sure district employees know that they are valued.
"It's part of doing what we need to do to make sure we keep the best and the brightest in the classroom, cafeteria, driving the buses and everywhere that we need them," Abbott said.
Killeen Educators Association President Rick Beaule says the organization was hoping to receive a four percent raise from the district, but says the two percent raise and open dialogue about the issue is a step in the right direction.
"They would know they were appreciated, they would know they were cared for and a happy worker is a productive worker. They would work even harder to take care of these kids and ensure that they're provided for," Beaule said.
Moreland hopes it signals a brighter future ahead.
"I love my job and would love to keep my job, so please pay me what I need to live so that I can," Moreland said.
Abbott said the raise will be funded in the 2019 draft budget to be formally presented to the school board in August.