MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Mesa Public Schools is addressing a problem being felt all across the country. Teachers are leaving the industry, and now the district is coming up with ways to keep their teachers in the classroom. The district has announced a raise for all of its teachers and staff.
“I was excited. I felt valued,” said Katherine Thrailkill, a Mesa Public Schools social studies teacher. It was a nice surprise for Thrailkill and the other employees at Mesa Public Schools. “I think we all know we work really hard, and I’m appreciative,” Thrailkill said.
The district will be giving a 4% salary increase for all employees. According to the district website, their average teacher salary is $56,000, which will bump pay on average more than $2,000. Mesa Public Schools’ salaries will be higher than the state average, which is around $52,000. “Our governing board is also providing a 1% salary increase as a one-time stipend to our teachers,” Mesa Public Schools superintendent Andi Fourlis said.
Eligible returning employees will also get a $2,000 retention stipend. That money is coming from the ESSER Funds through federal COVID relief funds.
Fourlis says now is a critical time to reward teachers. “We know in order to increase student learning, we have to invest in our employees,” Fourlis said.
This comes as Arizona schools continue to face a teacher shortage. According to a report by the Arizona School Personnel Administration Association, nearly 2,000 teacher positions were vacant in the state as of January. In addition, more than 900 teachers have resigned since the start of the school year. “Increasing their pay, I think it adds to the fact that it will help teachers stay at the job,” Thrailkill said.
Fourlis says she doesn’t have the number of teachers the district has hired for the upcoming school year but says they are on the right track. “We are in the height of our hiring season right now; we are ahead of schedule from where we were last year hiring teachers,” she said.
Arizona’s Family asked Fourlis how many teachers have quit or retired this school year. She says the district is working on putting that data together and plans to have those answers by the end of the month. The district is the largest in Arizona, with 85 schools, more than 9,000 employees are 58,000 students.
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