SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Several districts in Utah are announcing another round of pay raises for next year. This comes after several districts gave unprecedented raises in order to stop the mass exodus of teachers. The issue is far from over.
Vicki Olsen is a teacher in the Jordan School District which just announced raises for their teachers. She hopes the increase will help them just focus on teaching.
“So if you can work just as a teacher and make that be your only source of income. Then, yes, I think more teachers will stay,” said Olsen.
Granite School District also announced it will be giving a 2.5 percent raise along with a one percent bonus. District Spokesperson Ben Horsley said the raises last year required a tax increase, but this year won’t.
“We feel very comfortable from the funding increases received from the state that we’re going to be able to meet the needs of this settlement without a tax increase,” said Horsley.
Granite had to give raises last year in order to compete with all of the other districts increasing pay. By doing so they were able to fill the nearly 500 open positions before the start of the new school year.
Olsen believes officials started to get ahead of this early enough that it didn’t cause the same issues seen across the nation. Districts said many candidates are coming from out of state.
She said the competition for teachers, and pay raises are giving them more options.
“If a teacher wants to move closer to home because they’re tired of their commute, this certainly does give them a few more options,” said Olsen.
As other states also increase their pay Utah may feel the pinch once again. Many educators say they are watching closely to see what happens with the “Our Schools Now” compromise on the November ballot.
“The teacher shortage is ongoing,” said Horsley. “This is not something that’s just going to disappear. You are seeing some of these battles play out in other states.”
Salt Lake City and Canyons School Districts are currently in negotiations with their teachers, but announcements are expected soon on possible pay increases.
Some districts report the pay raises are helping keep veteran teachers as well. Pension plans in Utah are based off the average of the three highest paid years. Those nearing retirement want to help get their average up.