Was it a legislative oversight, a slight or is there a reasonable rationale? No matter how you cut it, many counselors and other licensed educators won’t be getting the big pay raises many teachers will this fall, unless fixes are made locally.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill into law in March that gives teachers and level-three counselors salary increases averaging about $10,000 a year, amounting to an extra $76.8 million a year.
Level-one and level-two counselors were left out of the equivalent of what averages to nearly 20% raises — although they and other instructional support providers such as career pathway nurses, social workers, interpreters, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and orientation and mobility specialists have the same minimum salaries as APS teachers.
Senate Bill 1 was approved by lawmakers without a single “no” vote. As it stands, level-one and level-two counselors and other instructional support providers will be lumped in with all other public education and state employees and receive a 7% raise. And while many in the private sector would welcome “just 7%,” the inequity sets up a really awkward working environment with no apparent rhyme or reason.
Lawmakers did set aside around $10.1 million for targeted raises to help fill hard-to-staff positions statewide, but it likely won’t be nearly enough to ensure APS licensed instructional support staff make the same as teachers — if, in fact, they should.
Whether a legislative oversight, slight or there’s a rationale to the disparate school raises, it will unfortunately fall on school districts to explain things to employees and make any warranted adjustments.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.