Will teacher pay of $60,000 attract educators to Utah?

Sep 26, 2023, 5:34 PM

teacher granite school district pay increase...

Sydnee Dickson, Utah State superintendent of public instruction, discusses how common ground on education in Utah can be reached. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — Has starting teacher pay in Utah finally hit the “sweet spot?” Does it finally make the profession attractive, and more importantly, keep educators in their classrooms longer?

Eight Utah school districts are paying licensed, first-year teachers $60,000 annually to start; a salary one principal called a “game changer.”

According to Envision Utah, a private, nonprofit regional planning entity, the districts paying beginning teachers more than $60,000 this school year are Canyons, Park City, Logan, Wasatch, South Summit, Tooele, Murray and Ogden, according to reporting by Deseret News.

In 2022, Utah had 606,998 students enrolled in a total of 945 schools in 42 school districts. There were 26,168 teachers in the public schools, or roughly one teacher for every 23 students, compared to the national average of 1:16, according to Ballotpedia.

Utah teacher pay needs to move closer to $70,000

Jason Brown, Vice President of Education for Envision Utah, told KSL NewsRadio that the starting pay for Utah teachers will need to rise above $60,000.

In the recent past, he said Envision Utah has worked with a group of leaders from the Utah Legislature as well as the Governor’s office, along with people in the education and business communities, trying to answer a simple economics question: What does compensation need to look like to get over Utah’s teacher shortage, bring more teachers into the profession, and keep them around long term?

Brown said that in 2019, the answer was $60,000.

But today, that number has risen to between $60,000 and $70,000, amounts he said make the profession both attractive and competitive.  He added that end-of-career salaries for teachers also need to become steeper and more competitive for the long term.

Brown said they are shooting for an end-of-career salary “north of around $110,000.”

Ending the teacher shortage in Utah takes time

As for the teacher shortage in Utah, Brown said it takes time for teachers to become trained and licensed to enter the profession. Given that the shortage has not gotten worse coming out of the pandemic, despiteall the challenges and difficulties around remote learning during that time, Brown said the gap is closing. 

He added the median salary for teachers just five years ago was in the 50-thousands.

And there’s one more hurdle Brown mentioned. He said the ultimate goal is to remove the idea that teacher pay is a negative aspect of the job. He said that has to happen before young students who are contemplating a career will consider teaching.

Related: What’s the lure for new teachers in Utah?


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Will teacher pay of $60,000 attract educators to Utah?