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Utah teacher salaries continue to climb thanks to collaboration with school districts and the legislature

5/24/2018

When Jordan School District announced in 2017 it was increasing starting teacher salaries above $40,000 and providing a big salary bump to other teachers, it triggered what the media referred to as “salary wars” among Utah school districts. Canyons School District followed by matching the $40,000 starting salary, Granite School District offered an 11.6% across-the-board increase for all teachers, and Salt Lake City School District bumped its starting pay to more than $43,000.

Those increases appear to be continuing this year. “School boards and bargaining teams in many school districts are still in the process of negotiating 2018-19 agreements, but so far, announced settlements are mostly very positive for our teachers,” said Jay Blain, UEA director of policy and research.

Here are a few highlights of 2018-19 settlements announced so far:

  • Tooele: $5,000 increase for all teachers, plus $2,000 increase for teachers with more than six years in the district.
  • Canyons: 2.5 percent increase and $500 one-time bonus for all teachers, plus a $3,000 stipend for special education teachers.
  • Granite: Starting pay nearly $42,000, a 2.5 percent increase and 1 percent one-time bonus for all teachers.
  • Jordan: $42,800 starting pay, $2,800 salary increase for all teachers.
  • Carbon: $41,000 starting pay and $1,500-3,500 increase for all teachers, depending on seniority.
  • Provo: $40,500 starting salary and minimum 5 percent increase for all teachers, depending on seniority on the salary schedule.
  • Iron: 4 percent increase and 1 percent one-time bonus for all teachers.
  • North Summit: $41,000 starting salary, 10 percent increase and 10 percent one-time bonus for all teachers.
  • Morgan: 6 percent increase for all teachers.
  • Logan: 3.7 percent increase and 5 percent one-time bonus for all teachers.

According to Blain, “the increases we’re seeing in teacher pay are a result of collaborative efforts in working with school districts and also success we’ve had at the legislature in recent years.” Overall funding increases for public education have averaged more than 4.5 percent per year over the past four years, with the largest, more than 7 percent increase, coming this past legislative session.

“Much of this year’s education funding increase can be attributed to the ‘Our Schools Now’ compromise,” said Blain. For more than a year prior to the 2018 Legislative Session, the UEA worked with members of the business community to increase revenue for schools. The group formed the Our Schools Now coalition and introduced The Teacher and Student Success Act. This plan, and the accompanying initiative, helped to drive the conversation on school funding in the months leading up to the 2018 legislative session. Motivated to resolve this issue, the Legislature worked with the coalition on a compromise. These negotiations impacted budget talks right up until the last night of the session.

A major piece of the Our Schools Now compromise, a 10-cent gas tax increase, will be on the ballot in November. Once approved and enacted by legislators, the total Our Schools Now compromise is expected to increase per-student funding by more than $800.

Utah is ahead of the curve nationally in the public education funding debate. Recent strikes and walkouts of educators in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina and Colorado are forcing difficult conversations about the underfunding of public education. Utah has already had these conversations and is on an enviable path to much-needed improvement in education funding, according to UEA President Heidi Matthews and Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom. In a letter to the Our Schools Now Executive Committee, the two UEA leaders wrote:

“It is our firm belief the Our Schools Now measure and the accompanying funding package are a critical first step in helping our schools recruit and retain highly qualified educators; better address the needs of students, especially those students from areas of high intergenerational poverty and diversity; fortify the ranks of counselors, nurses, social workers and others who support our students suffering from adverse childhood experiences; and provide the supplies our educators need when teaching our students. We are so excited to begin working in our schools to determine the strategies to best strengthen our students’ learning opportunities.”

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