Teacher pay raises in action

As Arizona schools are finalizing next year’s budgets, many governing boards are supporting large raises for their teachers.

During the RedforEd wave in April, teachers brought their low wage concerns to the state Capitol and the Governor and state lawmakers listened.

Governor Doug Ducey proposed a 20 percent pay raise for teachers by 2020, and the legislature approved the three-year plan in May, providing school districts and charter schools with an estimated 9 percent increase for teachers this year and the full 20 percent by 2020. Lawmakers also took steps to restore recession-era cuts to “additional assistance,” funds primarily used for facilities, textbooks and other capital needs.

“The Governor values teachers. They are some of the biggest difference makers in the lives of Arizona children, which is why he worked so hard to fight for teachers and give them the raises they deserve,” said Tamara Skinner, research and press assistant at the Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “The Governor is very pleased with how school districts and charter schools are delivering on the 20×2020 plan. They’re really working to get the funding to teachers and support staff and do it quickly. This will go a long way to ensure Arizona can retain and attract quality teachers.”

As a local control state, Governor Ducey and legislators provide funding to districts and charter schools, but local governing boards make the final decision on how to allocate raises.

At CASA Academy, a K-3 charter school in Central Phoenix, teachers will see an average salary increase of 11.6 percent, said Tacey Clayton, Co-Founder and CEO.

“Our teachers put tremendous time, energy, and hard work into their jobs and we want to acknowledge that in every way possible,” she said. “We know that without our committed, hard-working teachers, our students wouldn’t be where they are today.” 

In Southern Arizona, Tanque Verde Unified School District superintendent Scott Hagerman said through increased funding and additional cost-saving measures, he is recommending the Board approve a 10 percent raise for teachers and an additional salary boost for support staff.

“Tanque Verde is now able to make a positive step forward to increase teacher salaries,” he said.

Business groups across the state have stressed that adequate funding for teachers is not only essential for students and schools, but also for the businesses that drive Arizona’s economy and require a readily accessible, qualified labor pool.

In fact, during the legislative session, business groups held a press conference at the Capitol urging lawmakers to approve the 20 by 2020 plan.

“Arizona’s job creators value teachers and a strong educational pipeline; they are integral to the success of our state. Arizona’s teachers have earned a pay increase, and our growing economy makes it possible to deliver for them,” said Southern Arizona Leadership Council President Ted Maxwell. “These investments into teachers are a critical first step and provide precisely what the business community called for in its support of the budget: an investment in Arizona’s future workforce and in turn, its ensured prosperity as a state.”

Megan Gilbertson

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