Aurora teachers could get a pay bump in the fall, with a chance for more in January

Aurora teachers will get a slight pay increase at the start of the next school year, with a possibility for an additional 3 percent raise in January, according to an agreement reached by district and union officials.

Bruce Wilcox, the president of the teachers union, said officials have struggled in the past to ensure that raises can benefit new and veteran teachers alike, but the plan that officials reached this spring will do that.

The negotiated agreement gives all teachers a $1,600 annual salary bump for the 2018-19 school year and allows teachers to move up in the salary schedule, something that teachers have been prevented from doing in some years, even though they received some salary increases.

Aurora employs about 2,100 teachers. At the end of this school year, the pay for those teachers ranged from $39,757 for someone just starting out to $102,215 for one teacher with about four decades of experience. The average salary in Aurora is $54,742.

Aurora teachers joined others from across the state earlier this spring in marching to the state Capitol asking for more school funding and higher pay. Many school districts, including in Grand Junction, Boulder, and Jeffco, are using an increase in state funding to give teachers pay raises.

Teachers in Aurora have told the school board in the past that many teachers, especially younger ones, can’t afford the city’s increasing housing costs.

Aurora Public Schools is considering asking voters to approve a tax increase in November. The agreement states that if a tax measure is successful, the district will set aside $10 million from that request to give teachers an additional 3 percent raise starting in January. That money would also go into creating a new salary schedule for paying teachers.

Wilcox said the union’s goal in rewriting the pay scale would be to have a more consistent way for teachers to get raises based on their years of service and increased education. While that’s the system in place now, freezes in the past have left some teachers behind where they should be, even as some newer teachers gain ground.

District officials said the current salary schedule “does not currently reflect our commitment to our human capital strategy. Unpredictable changes in state funding over previous years have made implementation of the current salary schedule challenging.”

Of teachers who cast a vote on the agreement, 91 percent voted to approve the deal, Wilcox said.

Now the school board must give their blessing. A vote, likely to approve the deal, is set to take place later this month.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that recent pay freezes have applied only to movement within the salary schedule. The district hasn’t had a complete pay freeze since 2011.