NM teachers may get raises as soon as April - Albuquerque Journal

NM teachers may get raises as soon as April

Angela Stuart, a fifth-grade teacher at Alcalde Elementary School in Rio Arriba County, works with Serenity Martinez, 10, in this file photo. Minimum starting teacher pay in New Mexico would increase to $50,000 annually under a bill that won Senate approval on Saturday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

LOGAN – New Mexico’s top education chief said many teachers in the state likely will see their new pay raise as soon as April.

New Mexico Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus provided details about forthcoming pay increases for teachers and school staff during a so-called “listening tour” Friday in the boardroom of Logan Municipal Schools.

Steinhaus held similar sessions last week in Bloomfield, Taos and Roswell, and was scheduled to hold more in Truth or Consequences, Los Lunas and Rio Rancho.

About a dozen superintendents and school officials from eastern New Mexico on Friday peppered Steinhaus with questions about the state-mandated pay raises enacted by the Legislature.

Those attending included school bosses from Fort Sumner, House, Logan and Tucumcari.

Steinhaus, who grew up in Portales and attended Eastern New Mexico University, spent much of Friday explaining the intricacies of the raises. He said the Public Education Department received $424.9 million more, or 12% more, than the previous fiscal year. Priorities for that additional money is for personnel pay, incentives for extended learning and teacher preparation and professional development.

Steinhaus said teachers and other education professionals are earmarked to receive a 3% raise during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, or this spring. Steinhaus said he recommends that superintendents and district business managers distribute those raises during the quarter, which begins in April, though they can wait until August to do so.

Steinhaus said teachers would receive a 3% base salary increase during the 2022-2023 school year, plus a 4% raise for all staff that is compounded. He said districts will be given some control on how to distribute the raises, including more money for special-education teachers if they so desired.

He said the legislation also mandates teacher-pay minimum salaries of $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 depending on their licensure level, or to $15 an hour for staff.

Steinhaus said some teachers or staff in the extended-learning or K-5 Plus programs would receive an additional 3% raise or pay of $15 an hour. Some teacher salary minimums in those programs also would be bumped up from $53,777 to nearly $80,000 depending on their education and programs.

“If you look at this, some teachers will get an 18% raise,” Steinhaus said.

He said districts should consider being in PED’s forthcoming K-12 Plus program, which would require a few extra school days per year or more hours.

He also detailed the education bill’s millions in additional funding for an early literacy initiative, at-risk student interventions, career and tech education and internet technology to improve student access.

Money also was allocated for a teacher residency program that pays up to $30,000 for college seniors and a return-to-work program for retired teachers.

In short, Steinhaus said state lawmakers want better student achievement and are open to districts developing their own programs to facilitate that.

“The Legislature wrote us a big, fat check, and we’re feeling a lot of pressure,” he said, noting funding might be pulled back if results aren’t seen in 10 months.

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