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The Real Benefits Of Increased Teacher Salaries Are Still Years Away

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In recent weeks school districts all along the Wasatch Front have announced significant increases in entry level salaries for teachers. But it may take some time for this shift to make a dent in the ongoing teacher shortage.

Jordan District, which covers the southwest portion of Salt Lake County, was the first to lead out with the pay raises. They increased beginning teacher salary from $33,000 to $40,000.

 

Travis Hamblin, HR administrator at Jordan, says the district received some welcome attention for the change and that it's been a big boost to morale.

 

Hamblin says the overall sentiment has been, “It’s about time.” And he agrees.

 

He was also excited to see neighboring districts follow suit. But while there’s a lot of positive momentum, Hamblin tries to keep things in perspective.

 

“All of these salary increases don’t negate the fact that we’re in a shortage," Hamblin says.

 

Despite the salary change Jordan is looking at about the same number of job openings as they had this time last year. The growing teacher shortage in the state is still taking a toll.  

 

"The real challenge is that the benefits of these salary changes are at least four to five years away," says Hamblin.

 

Hamblin believes that what’s needed in Utah is not just more job applicants but a cultural shift in the way people think about the teaching career.

 

He says that this salary increase will be a success if current college freshman and high school seniors are now seriously considering a career in education.

 

It’s the long game, and while Hamblin can’t be sure it will work he says it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

 

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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