Aurora teachers’ starting pay could be at least $59,000 next school year

A teacher speaks to her students, wearing masks, during a STEM class. The classroom is partially obscured by the doorframe.
A teacher speaks to her students on the first day of school at Virginia Court Elementary in Aurora in 2021. (Eli Imadali for Chalkbeat)

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After a rocky year of negotiations, the Aurora school district reached an agreement with the teachers union to increase salaries for the current school year, and to guarantee next year’s starting pay will be no less than $59,000.

The new agreement, which may establish one of the highest starting salaries among districts in the metro area, was ratified by the teachers union at the beginning of this month. The district’s school board is expected to approve it at a meeting Tuesday night.

Prior to this agreement, the district’s starting salary stood at $46,894.

Aurora’s union and district had failed to reach an agreement on pay raises for the current school year last spring, went into arbitration over the summer, and eventually had to use a third-party fact finder to settle their disputes. The fact finder’s report, signed Nov. 28, found more evidence to side with the district’s position that it could not afford to pay for salaries in the way the union had proposed.

The dispute was about who got raises, and how much those raises would be. The district wanted to allocate the largest pay bump to starting teachers as a way to help recruit new staff and to be more competitive with other districts.

But union leaders argued it would be unfair to pit new teachers against veteran educators, and to not reward veteran educators who had been in the district during some difficult years. The union had proposed an equal raise for all teachers, regardless of how long they had been employed.

The agreement more closely resembles the district’s proposal than the union’s. It allocates a larger raise to first year teachers, and smaller increases for teachers with more years of experience. But the difference between pay bumps has narrowed.

In addition to the raises that will become immediate and retroactive to the beginning of the current school year, the union and district also signed a memorandum of understanding that lays out a plan for next year’s salaries.

The pair will create a “joint salary schedule committee” to restructure the way teachers earn higher pay with more years of experience or education. As part of that plan, the agreement states that the starting salary for first year teachers will be “no less than $59,000” in 2024-25. Also, all teachers will get an increase of at least $3,000 from their 2023-2024 salary to their 2024-2025 salary.

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Typically, districts and teachers unions negotiate salaries for the coming school year each spring, so most districts don’t yet know what their exact starting salaries will be this next fall.

But when comparing the minimum $59,000 starting salary that Aurora will start with to current starting salaries in other metro-area districts, Aurora’s would be among the highest.

With the pay hike that will kick in immediately if the plan is approved by the school board Tuesday, the starting salary for this current year will go up by $4,500 to more than $51,000.

Denver’s current starting salary is $54,141, and Cherry Creek’s is $58,710. Adams 12 also raised starting pay to $58,000 this year. Currently, one of the highest starting salaries is in Westminster, where new teachers start at $60,935.

Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at yrobles@chalkbeat.org.

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