Atlanta teachers to get pay raises under preliminary salary proposal

Atlanta Public Schools’ teachers would receive an average raise of 4.6% next school year under a preliminary pay proposal that also includes stipends for some specialty instructors.

The Board of Education’s budget commission on Thursday reviewed a draft $12 million compensation package that would ensure all eligible employees on the teacher pay scale receive $2,000, an amount proposed in Gov. Brian Kemp’s state budget. They also would receive a step increase based on years of service.

Combined, the two recommendations would increase teachers’ pay on average by 4.6%, or $2,962, according to APS.

New Atlanta teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree currently start out at $49,048 a year. The district’s most experienced teachers who also hold a doctorate degree make $96,830.

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APS is also considering offering $3,000 stipends to 167 middle and high school math teachers and 75 dual language immersion teachers, specialties that are hard to hire for. Dual language teachers lead classrooms in which students are taught in two languages.

“We need to have more of an attractive package for those individuals because we are recruiting nationwide for those teachers. And, it also took longer to fill those vacancies last school year,” said Nicole Lawson, interim chief human resources officer, of the language teachers.

The district budgeted $759,000 for the cost of the stipends for the budget year that begins July 1.

APS started the bonus strategy this school year by providing $3,000 to more than 400 special education teachers.

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Budget commission Chair Michelle Olympiadis asked the administration to track how the bonuses impact employee retention to make sure APS sees a return on its investment.

“These are really important things,” she said. “We do know that there’s a definite high need for this in our district so it would just be really important to see … the fruits of our labor, so to speak.”

Lawson said the district conducted a survey in early January to ask employees if they intend to return next school year. She said 26 special education teachers indicated that they planned to resign, a number she described as “very minimal.” Lawson said she’ll know more in the coming weeks after contracts are issued to staff members.

The teacher pay proposal is pending final board approval, which won’t come until members adopt the district’s budget in June. Officials expect to present the pay plan for non-teaching employees in March.