Arizona teachers seeing paychecks increase – some more than others

Aug 6, 2018, 4:36 AM | Updated: 12:13 pm
Elisabeth Milich (left) and Eric Rogers (right) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)...
Elisabeth Milich (left) and Eric Rogers (right) (KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)
(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

As students head back to school, some teachers are seeing an increase in their paychecks.

This comes after the Arizona State Legislature passed Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to provide school districts and charter school across Arizona enough funds to give teachers an average pay raise of 10 percent.

Elisabeth Milich, a 2nd grade teacher at Whispering Winds Academy in Phoenix, said she’s getting a 12 percent pay raise this year.

“When you look at it overall, that’s a huge blessing to have that increase,” she said.

That’ll bring her yearly pay to about $40,000. But after taxes, health insurance and retirement costs, she’ll likely make about $700 every two weeks.

Still, she said she’s thrilled to get a pay raise.

“It’s so well-deserved of teachers and it’s long overdue,” she said. “It is very exciting.”

Meanwhile, Eric Rogers said he feels frustrated. The music teachers at Estrella Middle School in Phoenix is only getting a five percent pay raise. His paycheck will increase by about $2,000 this year.

“That $2,000 might sound like a lot at first, but when you break it down, that’s $166 a month, $80 a paycheck, when my rent just went up $40 and I just had a child that was born prematurely in July,” he said. “It doesn’t really do much.”

He said medical bills started piling up even before his daughter, Tulsi, was born. His wife had to be airlifted before giving birth, because the hospital she was at did not deliver premature babies born before 32 weeks.

“The first thing we talked about was, ‘How can we afford that? We can’t afford an emergency helicopter ride,’” Rogers said.

His wife ended up being airlifted. His wife has health insurance through the federal marketplace, but they’re still not sure what their health insurance will cover.

“We just started getting bills from the hospital and, honestly, we’re starting to set them aside because we have to prep ourselves to see what it’s going to look like,” he said.

Ducey’s plan also includes giving teachers a five percent pay raise next year and another five percent the following year. Coupled with the 10 percent pay raise this year, the governor’s plan is set to give teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020.

However, the actual raises given to teachers vary across school districts and charter schools.

Millich said she’s hopeful the future raises will happen.

“At the same time there has to be a place to generate that funding to come from,” she added. “You can’t just make up a 5 percent increase across the state of Arizona. You have to have some sort of plan.”

Rogers said if he doesn’t see a significant pay raise any time soon, he and his wife will consider moving back home to Pennsylvania where both of their parents live and could help them take care of their daughter.

“It would be easy to leave,” he said. “But to me that’s walking out on our kids. We love this community, and we want to be a part of this community.”

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Arizona teachers seeing paychecks increase – some more than others