LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock School Board voted Thursday to raise starting teacher pay to $45.500.

That is almost $10,000 more than teachers in Little Rock were making two years ago.

“Hallelujah. Thank you Jesus,” said teacher at Central High School, Patrice Williams.  

Although, it does not just include new teachers. It affects all teachers, support staff, any and all employees in the district.

This is phase two of a three-year plan approved by the school board last year.

“We have been pushing for it for a long time because we knew that we needed to do better,” said Little Rock School Board President, Greg Adams.

Patrice Williams has been a teacher for 13 years, and is a proud alumni of Central High School.

After reflecting on her years in those hallways, she decided, two years ago, to come home.

“I’m a product of the school district, I’m a product of this high school, so I wanted to come back to my high school where I found my love and I connected with my teachers and my administration and I knew this was the place for me,” stated Williams.

Williams said she has had many struggles due to the salary.

“Still working on student loans, monthly,” said Williams.

Williams said teachers put in so much extra time and money for their kids.

“We want to be paid what we are worth. Let’s be honest, teachers are the core to every profession. We feed into those other professions, so we should be paid like other professionals,” stated Williams.

When she found out about the pay raise, she said she was thrilled.

“It makes you feel good when somebody is saying, you did a great job, you’re doing a great job, and we are going to pay you because you are doing what you are supposed to do,” said Williams.

This plan the school board approved, ranks the Little Rock School District in the top for pay.

“This is going to put us, for starting school teachers, at number 5 in the state, which has been our goal to be in the top 5. We think that this will put us in the, for our most experienced teachers, in the top 3,” said Adams.

To get there, they had to make some tough choices.

“We have had to look at closing some schools which is very difficult and very painful, but sometimes it’s necessary if we are going to do right by teachers and do right by students,” stated Adams.

Williams said this is a step in the right direction.

“Knowing that the district is honoring what they promised, and they respect what we are doing and  realize that there is a need,” Williams.

Every year teachers work for the district, they will receive and additional 2% increase in pay.

Those that work on support staff for the district are receiving an almost 3% increase for every year they work.

Adams said that teachers can hopefully see those raises hit their paychecks on Sept. 15.