Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday afternoon his proposal to increase teacher pay by 20 percent by fall 2020.
The announcement comes the day after a statewide teacher walk-in.
“I’ve been listening, and I’ve been impressed,” Ducey said during a press conference April 12.
The pay increase figure aligns with Arizona Educators United pay-increase demand, albeit over a period of two years. The increase includes the 1-percent increase paid to teachers in 2017.
Ducey projected the average teacher salary in two years will be $58,130.
The plan first needs to be passed in the state Legislature’s budget session, which is expected to end in the coming days.
If approved, teachers would receive a gradual pay increase:
- 2017: 1 percent increase
- 2018: 9 percent increase
- 2019: 5 percent increase
- 2020: 5 percent increase
Additionally, Ducey proposed $371 million for Arizona school districts’ “most pressing needs,” including: infrastructure, curriculum, school buses and technology.
“We can do this and do it in a responsible and sustainable way,” Ducey said. “As a result of Arizona’s thriving economy and Arizona’s record population of 7 million residents, our state revenues are on the rise. With a reduction in state government operating budgets, strategic efficiencies, case load savings and a roll-back of some of the Governor’s Office proposals of fiscal year 19 executive budget, more dollars are available to invest into two of Arizona’s most important priorities: Arizona’s teachers and Arizona’s classrooms.”
Maricopa Unified School District Board Member Patti Coutré called the move “a step in the right direction.”
“I just want to know more details,” Coutré added. “You know what they say, ‘the devil’s in the details.’”
“Maybe I’m an optimist but I’m hopeful,” said Allie Krigbaum, a second grade teacher at Butterfield Elementary. “I feel like the #RedforEd movement made a difference and that Ducey was able to see communities come together in support of teachers and kids. I feel hopeful that he means what he says.”
Not all local teachers were convinced.
MUSD Technology Integration Specialist Christine Dickinson said she applauded the state’s decision to take action, but it failed overall to address the movement’s demands.
“I am concerned that this action puts a Band-Aid on the teacher-pay issue and opens wounds elsewhere,” Dickinson said.
Many, like Dickinson, viewed the announcement as addressing only a portion of demands from the Arizona Educators United coalition.
“It misses the point of this entire movement,” said Maricopa High School English teacher Becky Gaul. “Teacher raises were just one part of the much larger picture. Where’s the money for our support staff?”
In addition to salary increases, teachers want to see competitive pay for support professionals, permanent teacher salary structure with annual raises, a restoration of education funding to 2008 levels and no new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.
Janean Jump teaches fourth grade at Saddleback Elementary. She fears Ducey’s proposal could strangle AEU’s efforts to raise salaries for support staff.
“Right now, we are almost backed into a corner with this. If we stop our movement because we received the raises, we will leave out those who are in just as much need as teachers. Pushing forward with our movement after this announcement will allow us to be painted as greedy and not satisfied with our raise, when, in reality, that was only one of our five demands.”
AEU leads the #RedforEd movement, and coalition leaders announced earlier this week a possible walk-out event could be a possibility.
“I say keep fighting. We will still be behind,” said Sue Swanno, a teacher at Saddleback Elementary.