By Tammy Gray
Despite a tight budget, the Holbrook Unified School District has been able to keep starting teacher salaries competitive.
The base starting rate for teachers new to the district under the salary schedule recently approved by the district governing board is $37,000 per year. That rate is for teachers who have no experience and hold a bachelor’s degree. It increases between $500 and $600 per year for every year of teaching experience. For example, the base rate for a teacher with three years of experience, but who is new to the district, is $38,600.
While the starting rate for the district is a little more than the national average of $36,141, it is well above the statewide average of $31,874. According to the National Education Association (NEA), Arizona ranks 39th in starting teacher salaries, meaning that only 11 other states have lower average starting salaries.
Superintendent Dr. Robbie Koerperich has repeatedly emphasized that keeping salaries competitive is vital for the district to attract and retain the best possible teachers.
The new salary schedule also rewards teachers who continue their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. New teachers who have credits in their area of expertise receive a higher salary, generally in $500 increments, depending on the amount of education. The pay schedule maxes out at $49,700 for a teacher with 20 or more years of experience who does not hold a master’s degree. The pay range for new teachers who have a master’s degree starts at $41,530 and peaks at $55,830, while the range for teachers with doctorates runs from $49,090 to $58,890. Continuing teachers, who are not part of the new hire pay scale, received a 1.5 percent salary increase plus $500 for the upcoming school year.
Although Holbrook has managed to keep pace with the national average for a teacher’s starting salary, the pay for teachers has generally not kept pace with salary increases in other industries. The NEA notes, “New teachers earn less than their peers in other professions requiring comparable education and responsibilities. Wages start low, and the gap keeps widening, causing many good teachers to leave the profession for greener financial pastures.”
According to the NEA, the average starting salary for a non-technical researcher is $37,541, while the average for a registered nurse is $51,341 and for an accountant, $47,453. A field engineer starts at an average of $52,277, while the starting salary for a management trainee is $42,123.
The Holbrook district has already begun recruiting new teachers for open positions for the upcoming school year. Administrators will be traveling to job fairs in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Oregon to search for highly qualified teachers to fill vacancies for the 2014-15 school year.
By Tammy Gray