In recent weeks school districts all along the Wasatch Front have announced significant increases in entry level salaries for teachers. But it may take some time for this shift to make a dent in the ongoing teacher shortage.
Jordan District, which covers the southwest portion of Salt Lake County, was the first to lead out with the pay raises. They increased beginning teacher salary from $33,000 to $40,000.
Travis Hamblin, HR administrator at Jordan, says the district received some welcome attention for the change and that it's been a big boost to morale.
Hamblin says the overall sentiment has been, “It’s about time.” And he agrees.
He was also excited to see neighboring districts follow suit. But while there’s a lot of positive momentum, Hamblin tries to keep things in perspective.
“All of these salary increases don’t negate the fact that we’re in a shortage," Hamblin says.
Despite the salary change Jordan is looking at about the same number of job openings as they had this time last year. The growing teacher shortage in the state is still taking a toll.
"The real challenge is that the benefits of these salary changes are at least four to five years away," says Hamblin.
Hamblin believes that what’s needed in Utah is not just more job applicants but a cultural shift in the way people think about the teaching career.
He says that this salary increase will be a success if current college freshman and high school seniors are now seriously considering a career in education.
It’s the long game, and while Hamblin can’t be sure it will work he says it’s definitely a step in the right direction.