TUSD headquarters

TUSD, with main offices at 1010 E. 10th St., might not immediately lose special funding related to the six schools.

Teachers with one year of experience in TUSD will now have the opportunity to make nearly $40,000 after the Governing Board approved pay increases for teachers and other district employees.

The increases apply to more than 7,100 positions and come at a cost of $2.9 million.

The Governing Board voted Tuesday night to raise the base salary for teachers with one year of experience from $34,200 to $35,000 and also approved a $500 increase for all teachers, bringing starting pay to $35,500.

When you factor in $3,000 in performance pay, that brings the total to $38,500, said TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.

“It’s extremely important for us to prioritize the most important employees who work in the district, which are our teachers who without them there is no education that occurs,” Sanchez said, adding the investment will go a long way toward helping the district’s recruitment and retention efforts.

“If you make the salary attractive and appealing, people will consider the profession, and that’s our goal — to get to $40,000, and each year we continue to make strides towards that,” he said.

The board also approved 1 percent raises for other employees throughout the Tucson Unified School District ranging from bus drivers and maintenance workers to principals and directors.

The superintendent and his leadership team, however, will not receive any additional compensation .

The majority of the expense — $2.1 million — will be paid for from the maintenance and operation fund with the balance being covered by other funds including federal and state grants.

M&O funds have been freed up thanks to department-level reductions and savings generated by the retirement of longtime educators who are replaced by newer teachers on the lower end of the salary scale.

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While the teacher pay increases received unanimous approval from the Governing Board, member Mark Stegeman had reservations.

“I am concerned about the long-term sustainability of our spending trajectory,” he said, adding that he recognizes teachers are undercompensated.

“Over time we will have to make some structural changes in district administration that will allow higher teacher salaries over the long term in a way I believe is sustainable.”

Board President Adelita Grijalva, however, argued that the district’s ability to consistently offer raises is proof of financial stability.

Board Clerk Kristel Foster added: “Teaching is very hard across the nation, not just here. We lose about 50 percent of our teachers in the first five years and that is because it is such a difficult job and because it does not pay enough ... I am so proud we are able to give a raise despite what is happening politically in this state.”

Catalina Foothills School District, the highest paying district in the area this school year, would continue to offer a higher base salary of $36,000 without performance pay factored in. The district, however, is a fraction of the size of TUSD, and thus hires fewer teachers.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@tucson.com or 573-4175. On Twitter: @AlexisHuicochea