Teachers are receiving big raises in many districts. Can you keep up?

Pressure rises on superintendents, school boards and states that haven't increased compensation significantly.

A message to K-12 leaders who are worried about sharing a shrinking pool of teachers with other districts: some states and school systems are giving out big and, in some cases, historic raises. This will likely put further competitive pressures on superintendents and school boards who haven’t increased compensation as communities across the U.S. grapple with teacher shortages that have worsened during the pandemic.

Some districts have implemented substantial salary boosts in recent weeks. The School District of Palm Beach County in Florida has given teachers a 3.5% increase in base salary, retroactive to July 1, 2021, as well as a one-time $1,500 bonus and up to three days of bereavement leave. The full package represents a 6% increase, which significantly exceeds raises offered by the state. “This settlement is a well-deserved win for teachers,” the district says on its website. “The school district hopes this helps to attract additional educators to Palm Beach County schools.”

Milwaukee Public Schools is giving teachers a 4.7% raise, the largest salary increase in 10 years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. That figure matches the rise in inflation, which is the maximum wage increase teachers can receive under state law, according to the newspaper.

In Texas, Round Rock ISD near Austin just approved a 4% pay increase, bringing a starting teacher’s salary up to $52,600 a year. All teachers and librarians will see an increase of at least $2,250, the district says on its website. “We know we have a long way to go to ensure educators are compensated fairly,” Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said. “We will continue working with Texas legislators to advocate for more funding for public education and create avenues to boost teacher salaries.” The salary increases, which also cover administrative and instructional support staff, will cost the district $15.2 million.

In March, Mississippi gave teachers an average $5,140 raise, the largest in the state’s history. New Mexico also delivered historic raises of 7% and increased minimum salaries by $10,000, making the state’s teachers the highest-paid in the region, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.

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Alabama’s most experienced teachers could receive raises as high as 21%, bringing their salaries above $66,000, under the state’s newly approved Education Trust Fund, AL.com reported. The record $8.3 billion in spending includes smaller raises for all other teachers and bonuses for retirees that are designed to attract more people into the teaching profession, the website reported. “We should no longer accept the existence of failing elementary schools in our state,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement after signing the bill earlier this month. “We are covering the spread in education—from adding Pre-K classrooms to providing math coaches to funding after-school programs.”

Shortages may be more severe in Alabama, where 50% of first-time teachers leave their jobs after three years. Nationally, 44% of first-time teachers quit within five years, according to the Alabama Commission on the Evaluation of Services.

Many other states, including Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee, have included sizeable teacher raises in their budget proposals this spring.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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