LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Local school leaders in Little Rock say they want to bring the best teachers to their schools and believe cash is the key.
Officials with the Little Rock School District said they want to increase new teacher salaries by 33%. Right now, starting teachers in the district get paid $36,000 a year, and the district wants to bump that up to $48,000.
Officials say it’s all about attracting new talent and keeping them in the capital city.
The Little Rock School District has a lofty, two-year goal of having the highest-ranked starting teacher salaries in the state.
School board member Jeff Wood said the district ranks low in starting teacher salaries.
“A couple of years ago, we ranked 100th in the state, and there’s been a real effort to move that up,” Wood said.
The starting teacher salary in the district of $36,000 puts it far under many other area schools:
- Cabot: $42,000
- Bryant: $41,080
- Conway: $40,841
- Benton: $40,000
- Little Rock: $36,000
- PCSSD: $34,618
Wood said it doesn’t make sense to him that the district is not able to offer more to get better teachers.
“We’re the wealthiest school district in Arkansas and, in my opinion, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be the most competitive school district in Arkansas,” he said.
The question now is “How?” Wood didn’t offer any specifics but said the board and district leaders will have to be disciplined.
“We’re going to have to right-size our expenses and prioritize the way we spend money in the district,” he explained. “It won’t be easy, but with the right commitments, I think we can get there.”
Should the district reach this goal for starting teachers, it would bump up pay for more experienced teachers, too.
“It’s going to affect teachers almost all the way through the pay scale,” Wood said.
This would ultimately make LRSD Number One, or competing for Number One, from the first day of a teacher’s career to the last.
The Little Rock School District has gotten more than $28 million in federal COVID-19 relief. Wood said that money won’t be used to increase the teacher salaries, as increase in pay is a long-term, forever commitment, and they don’t want to rely on one-time money that has no guarantees of being renewed.