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The City Journals

Murray District teachers could have major salary hike with proposal

May 14, 2019 03:20PM ● By Julie Slama

In May, Murray’s Board of Education proposed a faculty salary increase of almost $7,000 to show its appreciation of teachers, like Grant Elementary’s Ginger Shaw, seen here helping students. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Murray School District teachers may be looking at nearly $7,000 salary increase next fall.

At the Murray Board of Education meeting May 9, Board President Kami Anderson announced that under the proposal, teachers would receive an increase of $6,961, with starting pay at $50,000, and maximum salary at $86,291.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to show appreciation and support to teachers in the Murray City School District, along with strengthening our ability to hire and retain the best teaching talent possible, we, the Murray Board of Education, are looking to provide a signification increase in our teacher salaries for the upcoming 2019-20 school year,” Anderson said at the meeting. 

While the Board of Education has unanimously agreed to this compensation package increase, which equates to a total value of 13.93 percent, a tentative settlement agreement has been presented to leadership of the Murray Education Association and was to be discussed on May 10 as part of the scheduled negotiations. 

The last increase for teachers was this past school year, when starting salaries were increased to $43,039, a 4.46 percent increase.

Anderson said the proposed 2019-20 teacher raises will be made possible with a community investment in our teachers in the manner of a property tax increase, which will be presented for approval at a required Truth-in-Taxation hearing this August. 

The impact upon taxpayers would be approximately $93 a year on a $250,000 home, she added, however the proposed tax increase will be earmarked at 100 percent toward teacher salaries. 

Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation law shifts the base for taxation from a fixed rate to a fixed revenue amount, with a sliding scale for population growth or to reflect property value. It also requires local government entities to notify the public and hold hearings to allow transparency to decision-making about taxes.

However, those on a fixed income can file an appeal called a circuit breaker with the Utah State Tax Commission to prevent their taxes from increasing. There also are exemptions such as veterans with disabilities, legally blind property owners, active or reserved duty armed forces and others. (For more information, see https://tax.utah.gov/forms/pubs/pub-36.pdf)

In addition, the Board of Education is also working toward substantial salary increases for classified employees. 

“We are also working on classified employee raises, and want all of our employees to know that we appreciate them and take very seriously our job of providing the students of Murray with the best education possible. Without our outstanding teachers and staff, this would not be possible,” Anderson said.

On April 23, Canyons School District announced its proposed starting teacher pay increase to $50,000, which at the time, was the highest in the state. Two days later, Granite School District announced their educator package, including boosting teacher salaries from a starting range of $43,483 and topping out at $84,255 with a 3 percent bonus annually.

In Murray, teachers were grateful upon hearing the announcement.

At McMillan Elementary, Ann Saltzman said it will have a direct impact on current and future Murray teachers.

“This is great news for our district as it will be fantastic for employee morale and will be in line or consistent with the moves that other school districts are making with salary changes,” she said. “Additionally, this move will be extremely beneficial from a strategic recruiting perspective as it will put us in a better position to recruit and source high-quality teacher candidates.”

Twenty-four-year veteran Longview Elementary teacher Tina Nilsson supports the Board’s proposal.

“It’s about time,” she said. “Our new teachers cannot even qualify for a loan on a house. For a state that values families, we sure do not seem to put our money where our mouth is. I realize, as a taxpayer, that many feel they just keep being asked for more and more money for education and it just doesn't seem to trickle down. Teachers need to be able to live — buy a house, pay off student loans.”

Murray High construction and manufacturing teacher Quinn Drury agrees.

“A teacher should be able to provide for his family on his wage,” he said. “You pay for what you value. Our kids are our most valuable possession. They are our future. Second only to the parents, the teacher has the most influence on the child’s future success.”