City aims to close pre-K teacher pay gap with salary hikes

The city is moving to narrow the pay gap between pre-kindergarten teachers at community-based organizations and public schools, a divide that advocates have warned could hobble the mayor’s pre-K plan by driving the best teachers to the higher-paying public schools.

Pre-K teachers at CBOs, who had earned between $36,000 and $44,000 in the past, will now earn at least $44,000 annually, the mayor’s office announced Monday. That brings their pay closer to that of new pre-K teachers in public schools, who start at $45,530 per year. CBO teachers with advanced degrees will take in at least $50,000 annually.

“This is going to go a long way towards increasing the quality of pre-K in New York City, and making sure every classroom — be it in a public school or in a community-based organization — has a great teacher come September,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Monday.

The city will use some of the $300 million in pre-K funds it recently secured from the state to finance the pay hikes for certified teachers at CBOs, which provide about 60 percent of the city’s pre-K seats.

The new pay plan sets minimum salaries for certified CBO teachers, which those organizations could boost if their budgets permit. But it does not dictate pay increases as teachers grow in experience or training, leaving open the possibility that experienced teachers at CBOs could still earn significantly less than their public-school counterparts over time.

The pay plan only applies to certified teachers at CBOs, which is partly an effort to spur uncertified teachers at those sites to earn their credentials. The city recently announced a $7 million plan to help current or would-be pre-K teachers earn their credentials.