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Scottsdale school board votes to raise teacher pay by next school year

Arizona teachers and education advocates shouts as they march at the Arizona Capitol highlighting low teacher pay and school funding Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area school district voted on Tuesday to raise wages for teachers by the start of the next school year.

The Scottsdale Unified School District said in a press release that the governing board voted “in favor of teacher raises.”

The district voted to increase pay by 3.5 percent for the 2018-2019 school year.

This vote “[fulfilled] a promise made to teachers in February,” the press release said.

In a statement, acting Superintendent Amy Fuller said the district was always working to increase teacher salaries.

“We are constantly reviewing our budget to see where we can reallocate funds and be more efficient,” Fuller said.

“Teacher salaries are a top priority in the Scottsdale Unified School District, which is why the governing board has set an ambitious goal to increase pay by 10 [percent] over four years.”

However, Doug Virgil, the district’s interim chief financial officer, said the district has already surpassed the goal of increasing teacher pay by 10 percent in that time frame. The district had reportedly increased teacher pay by at least 2 percent each year starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

The district announced that it will allocate an additional $2,000,000 to raise teacher salaries in the 2018-2019 school year, on top of a proposed 1.06 percent state increase.

If the proposed increase goes through, teacher pay increases in the district would jump to more than 14 percent in the last four years.

The Scottsdale Unified School District vowed to continue to look for ways to improve teacher pay in the future, the release said.

“SUSD recognizes the national movement underway to better compensate educators for the extraordinary work they do every day.”

The move comes as teachers across the state call on lawmakers to increase teacher pay and provide more school funding.

Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. Adjusted for local cost of living, federal figures show elementary teachers in Arizona rank 50th in earnings nationally and high school teachers rank 49th.

National Education Association data showed Arizona teachers are paid around $47,000 annually, compared to a national average of about $58,000.

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