Atlanta teacher pay plan includes raises for all, extras for some

The Atlanta school board is considering a plan to give $14 million in raises and stipends to teachers next year.  (STEVE SCHAEFER/AJC FILE PHOTO)
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The Atlanta school board is considering a plan to give $14 million in raises and stipends to teachers next year. (STEVE SCHAEFER/AJC FILE PHOTO)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The Atlanta school board is considering a package of teacher pay raises and stipends that would cost the district about $14 million next school year.

The board’s budget commission heard details of the recommended compensation plan for 3,000 teachers and specialists at a Thursday meeting. It includes across-the-board pay raises plus incentives for special education teachers and those who work in Atlanta’s poorest schools.

“I think we should absolutely be giving teachers as much as we can going into this next year,” said Chairman Jason Esteves.

The proposed pay hikes come during a challenging time for teachers, many of whom are teaching students online and in-person simultaneously because of the pandemic. Atlanta Public Schools began reopening school buildings in January, though some teachers held protests over safety concerns.

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The pay plan is preliminary because revenue projections are still uncertain. It won’t be decided until June, when the board approves the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

It calls for all APS teachers to receive a 2% raise, or an average of $1,300 per teacher. It also includes a “step” increase based on years of experience; for eligible employees that would increase the average raise to 3.6%, or about $2,200.

The district also is discussing two new pay initiatives for teachers who work in hard-to-staff areas and in high-poverty schools.

Atlanta’s more than 400 special education teachers would receive a $3,000 stipend in addition to other raises. The move would cost APS $1.3 million next year.

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The district also is considering giving teachers who work in the Atlanta schools with the highest rates of student poverty a $1,000 stipend. The goal is to retain and attract experienced teachers to work in schools where students face higher needs. The plan would benefit 680 teachers at 17 schools.

Additionally, the district wants to give bigger raises to teachers with five to 15 years of experience, where APS pay lags behind some surrounding school systems.

Skye Duckett, chief human resources officer, said the pay plan aims to keep APS competitive with other districts.

“Not providing any increases to the teacher pay scale … would definitely bury us further into the metro area market where we have already started to slip a little bit,” she said.

APS provided raises to teachers each year from 2014 to 2019. This year, it froze salaries because of budget concerns prompted by the pandemic, but employees received a one-time $1,000 payment in December.

APS employs more than 6,000 total staffers. The administration plans to make pay recommendations regarding the remaining employees next month.

Atlanta Public Schools’ teacher pay proposal

2% raise for all teachers: $4.7 million

Step increase for eligible teachers: $3.7 million

Increase for teachers with 5-15 years experience: $3.1 million

Stipends for special education teachers: $1.3 million

Stipends for teachers in high poverty schools: $680,000

Other adjustments: $460,000

Total: $14 million