Teacher pay hike likely

Proposed legislation would raise salary for educators by $2,500

KINGMAN – Teachers throughout the state are one step closer to getting $2,500 pay raises next fiscal year following a 9-0 vote Wednesday by the House Education Committee to pass a $150 million permanent raise for educators.

House Bill 2563 was proposed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and co-sponsored by House Education Chairman Mark Anderson and Representative Tom O’Halleran. It would provide the funds necessary to pay for the increases for all educators as defined in Proposition 301.

“I think any new money toward education is great, although I haven’t seen any details of the proposed bill,” said Brent Potter, president of the Kingman Education Association, which has about 170 members.

“I am hoping this is part of the governor’s plan to get everybody at least $30,000 base pay. That’s about all I can say at this time since I don’t know particulars of the bill being considered.”

Qualified school employees that would be eligible for the raises as stipulated in Prop. 301 include all full-time classroom teachers of kindergarten through grade 12 in public and charter schools. Counselors, librarians, media specialists and school nurses also would be eligible for increases.

The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee and then will be calendared onto the House floor, probably sometime next week, said Doug Nick, interim press secretary in Horne’s office. The House and Senate must pass the bill and send it to Gov. Janet Napolitano for her signature before it can take effect.

Horne had originally proposed a $2,500 tax credit that would have been roughly equivalent to a $3,500 pretax pay raise. But Potter and other local educators had turned thumbs down on the idea.

“With a budget surplus that is $600 million more than anticipated last year, $150 million is reasonable to request for raises for educators,” Horne stated in a news release.

“It is gratifying that both Republicans and Democrats supported this raise. This vote will be a major boost to achieving a substantial raise for our educators as the budget process proceeds.”

Passage of the pending legislation would be “terrific,” said Betsy Parker, assistant superintendent of the Kingman Unified School District.

More than 400 KUSD personnel would benefit from it, she said.

“It’s great,” said Susan Chan, district administrator at the Kingman Academy of Learning.

“I hope there are not many strings attached to the point where it makes it difficult to administer, but it’s awesome. It shows people who make laws know how important education is and how hard it is to keep good, qualified educators in the classroom.”

About 70 KAOL teachers would benefit if the bill is passed, Chan said.