MESA, AZ — In the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage, Arizona's largest school district told ABC15 it plans to offer educators a 4% pay increase next school year.
In addition to giving current employees a pay increase, new teachers will start at $50,000 a year.
According to the district, that's about 10% more than the current $45,575 a year.
"I would love to say that we were in the middle of the pack of states for educational funding but that's not the case," said Dr. Andi Fourlis, the district's superintendent.
Arizona currently ranks #44 for average teacher salary.
"This is a challenge we face every single year and we know that in order to get great outcomes for our students we have to invest in our employees so this was a priority for us," Fourlis added.
Mesa Public Schools already pays new teachers about $5,000 more than other new teachers in the state.
Dr. Theresa Ratti, a teacher at Mesa High School, told ABC15 the increase helps but doesn't keep up with inflation.
"I definitely think it's a step in the right direction," she said.
According to Ratti, teachers are also looking for jobs out of state.
"Well I keep hearing people leave the state because even New Mexico pays more than Arizona," she said.
"Their state legislature passed a significant pay raise and we're at the bottom of the barrel, we're still at the bottom of the barrel," said Ratti.
As ABC15 previously reported hundreds of teachers and more than 100 support staff are planning to leave Mesa Public Schools at the end of the year.
Fourlis said by increasing salaries, she hopes to attract good teachers while keeping the ones they have.
"We know that there's a direct correlation between the quality of classroom teachers and outcomes for students," Fourlis added.