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Teachers assured of full pay raise

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Cicero said there was no more valuable or noble employment to the state than that of instructing the rising generation. We couldn't agree with Cicero more.

Nearly everyone can think of a special teacher in their childhood who opened new doors of knowledge and understanding, impacting them for the rest of their lives. Teachers know that the pay for their labors will not afford a luxurious lifestyle, that they may need two incomes to support a family, and that at times their labors may seem in vain. We are grateful that there are people whose passion and love of a particular subject drive them to serve and teach despite the pay and rigors of the job. We thank and salute them for doing so. This year the Legislature sought to provide a special reward to all our teachers for a job well done. We intended to signal our thanks in the form of a $2,500 gross pay raise and $1,000 bonus to every classroom teacher. Recently, Legislative leadership was informed that, even though more than $2.1 billion was set aside for teacher raises, the total number of teachers provided to the Legislature for calculating purposes was not accurate.

The Legislature made it expressly clear in the bill's intent language, and in the media, that each teacher was to be awarded a $2,500 raise. Rather than allow districts to pass on a smaller raise to teachers, we intend to fulfill our commitment. It is our intent that every single dollar promised makes its way directly into the hands of the teachers. This was a very public promise the Legislature made to our valuable and noble teachers and to the public as well. Indeed, the bill authorizing the raises passed both houses of the Legislature with overwhelming support. This is a promise the Legislature intends very much to honor.

We have requested an audit to determine the exact number of teachers in each district and exactly how much additional funding will be required to fulfill our promise. Once that data has been received, we intend to pass a supplemental appropriation bill in the next general session to enhance the $2.1 billion that has already been set aside. Every public school teacher will receive a $2,500 gross pay raise.

We thank our teachers for their work educating our rising generation. We know they labor oftentimes in obscurity and at great personal sacrifice. They deserve this raise, and we intend to work to ensure that each and every teacher gets what has been promised to them.

Greg Curtis is speaker of the Utah House of Representatives. David Clark, Gordon E. Snow and Brad Dee are representatives.