Teachers protest

Police shut down streets temporarily, with Red For Ed marchers filling them sidewalk to sidewalk as they moved toward the capitol.

A new report shows that the nearly 53,000 teachers in Arizona have the lowest wages in the nation on average.

And teachers in Lake Havasu City and Mohave County are near the bottom of the list.

The analysis of federal employment and wage data by HireAHelper, a California-based company that connects professional movers with clients, found that Arizona ranked 50th in median annual earnings for teachers after adjusting for cost of living. Arizona teachers earned only $47,606 — more than $2,100 less than the adjusted pay for educators in Oklahoma.

The study ranked teacher pay by metropolitan statistical areas.The Lake Havasu City/Kingman MSA, which includes all of Mohave County, ranked 184 of 187 in the small metro cities category. Teachers in this area earn an average of $46,957, according to the study. Flagstaff, Yuma and Sierra Vista-Douglas pay even less, according to the study. Arizona’s two largest metropolitan areas, Phoenix and Tucson, ranked 48th and 50th, respectively, among large cities. The median pay in the Phoenix area is $47,851, while Tucson teachers earn just $44,153.

Lake Havasu Unified has paid particular attention to raising teacher pay in recent years, with 2016’s budget override intended to raise salaries of school district employees. State legislation has also targeted teacher pay.

According to the budget posted on the district website, teachers in Lake Havasu Unified School District are making an average salary of $44,175 in the 2021 fiscal year. This reflects a $582 increase from the average salary in 2020 and 10 percent increase from 2018 when the average salary was $40,120.

Havasu’s board President John Masden said he’s happy that the district has taken steps to address teacher pay and he believes the board would be willing to do more in the future.

“We are a competitive district and we as a board have taken steps to stay competitive,” Masden said. “If we get more money coming in that isn’t already earmarked, then I believe it should go toward the teachers.”

Masden also pointed out that the listed average salary does not include the value of the benefits the district also provides teachers too such as retirement and insurance.

Director of Personnel Jaime Festa-Daigle agreed the district’s approach to benefits has helped address teacher retention.

“We also pay bonus pay outside of base salary, which is not reflected in the teacher salary we report to the state,” Festa-Daigle said. “We also pay all of each educators’ benefits and there are some districts that have chosen to raise pay, but charge for benefits. That being said, at a time when housing prices are rising more quickly than ever and there is competition for teachers, we must focus our attention on salaries.”

Festa-Daigle said that the HireAHelper study shows just how little Arizona spends on education even after the 20 by 2020 movement spurred on by Red for Ed in 2018.

“Teaching is a skilled profession and teachers should be paid as the skilled professionals they are,” Festa-Daigle said. “There is a shortage of teachers across the country, and that shortage is severe in Arizona. This is even more problematic for rural communities where accessing high quality teachers is even more difficult. The teaching profession must be attractive for people to want to enter it, and income is a piece of that.”

Festa-Daigle has recently talked about how the tight rental market and the high cost of housing have also been hurdles to attracting teachers to Lake Havasu City. She also said the low average earnings means there’s a large turnover of teachers in the state, meaning Arizona likely has more teachers with less experience.

Jim Small of Arizona Mirror contributed to this report.

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(15) comments

arizonagopher

Teacher pay for first year teachers in this state is not horrible. The issue is that after a few years, they are making about the same salary. Young teachers come here for a few years to get experience and enjoy the weather, move to a higher paying state. Lack of stability within a building is a huge problem. Money for buildings/ fields, etc... don't seem to be an issue in this state.

tomgarven

There is one thing our District does not seem to UNDERSTAND. The ONLY reason it EVEN EXISTS is because of Federal and State laws and regulation which require every child to have access to an education. And WHO does that job of TEACHING - well of course TEACHERS do that. Not superintendents, not administrators, not bus drivers, not janitors, not assistant principles, not classroom aids, not the clerical support staff - only TEACHERS teach - they are the ONLY reason the School District even EXISTS and that is to teach.

And yet we treat TEACHERS like second class citizens and pay them according to what I guess our School Board feels they are worth. I can remember not so long ago when someone said - well they should have married someone wealthy if they wanted more money or some words to that effect. What a disgrace that such an attitude even exists in our District. Oh and did I mention that we wouldn't even NEED a School Board if we didn't have TEACHERS. We have a superintendent who runs the show.

Some people needs to wise up and realize just WHO is really IMPORTANT at our School District. If you are NOT a teacher you are NOT an Essential Worker and your job could be eliminated or filled by others at any time. It is the job of our District to TEACH and that is the primary function of our District. Don't believe me? Go read this.

www.havasu.k12.az.us/guidingprinciples

It is high time we give our teachers and NO ONE else a 25% pay raise. The last time the state designated money for teachers it got swallowed up by others in the District and once again our teachers got less than they deserve. We need to provide a living wage for those teachers who love to teach and want to live in our community. It is a disgrace we have to go out of state and out of America to find teachers because we don't value what they do enough to pay them well.

As a community we can do better. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics our teachers make 34% below the national AVERAGE. Not the top or the bottom just the average. Read about it here.

www.bls.gov/regions/west/news-release/occupationalemploymentandwages_lakehavasu.htm

I rest my case.

HavasuGuy

Exactly! Tom, I support more money to the teachers only and I like the 25% number too.

tomgarven

[beam]

1502

Teachers are our future. If your children get a poor education they will struggle to compete for the good jobs. This is why so many wealthy people send their kids and grandkids to high end private schools.

tomgarven

[smile]

simon1dog

Looks like Shishka already marked this page with his or her unintelligence.

1502

Spend millions on sport’s fields and pay the teachers low wages. It does make sense. Havasu is great place to play but not to work and earn a good living.

BigBob

This is pathetic, but as long as Republicans fear an educated populace it will never change.

alloveragain

Enough BigBob, this is a subject that we call all agree on. Stop using "Republicans" as your go to reason for every bad thing. This is on YOU as well. We as Havasu citizens, have allowed this. We have voted for all kinds of money for football fields, etc, but where is the demand that we pay our educators. This is truly one of the most ridiculous statements you have ever posted in this forum, and you have post some pretty horrendous accusations. You need to get your hate, and forked tongue under control. All young people need to be educated. And teachers need to earn a fair wage for what they do, on the other hand, unions are no longer a positive force in the education of them. No union can do for you, what you can do for yourself. Put a sock in it BB.

Too old for this

I echo your thoughts on teacher pay, and on double dummy. It seems that Bob only lives to try and start an argument. I will be happy when the Herald bans him from commenting.

NorthLong

BB really does need to go. All he posts is constant hate speech.

Havadreamers

Wake up 'alloveragain'! Don't be so blind. Without Unions to represent them, it's divide and conquer. Unions keep workers unified and maintain a voice for those who would be silenced because they wish to speak. Think about it. Americans have always joined together—whether in parent teacher associations or local community organizations—to solve problems and make changes that improve their lives and their communities. Through unions, people join together to strive for improvements at the place where they spend a large portion of their waking hours: work. Teachers and all workers deserve to earn 'living' wages so that they can pay the bills without supplemental income. Many of these teachers are having to dig into their own pockets just to purchase supplies for the kids they teach. That's wrong! The state and fed must provide those essential funds. So no, don't go there with anti representation. These teachers would never get anywhere without someone watching their backs! [angry] No ant builds a hill by itself.

HavasuGuy

Unions? Our local teachers don't have a union and look where that got them...

azbeancounter

Educated populace? You mean 'indoctrinated populace' don't you?

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