Kyrene School District raises salaries for all staff after new state budget

TEMPE, AZ — The Kyrene School District has announced that it will use new state funding to give all employees a pay raise this school year.

Thursday marks the start of the school year for the Tempe District and the start of Kinora Hernandez’s 32nd year of teaching.

“To be very honest, it’s been a long time since I had the energy to start a school year,” she said. “It’s the first time in probably three years that I’ve been excited.”

The pandemic, staffing shortages and high inflation have thrown challenge after challenge for our educators.

Hernandez said she’s thrilled to see the state pouring more money into our schools after the Arizona Legislature passed a budget last month with a big enough increase in education funding.

“I think it shows that we are finally prioritizing education and unfortunately we need funding to make sure we can do our job appropriately,” she said.

The district had already approved a 3% raise for all employees for the upcoming school year, plus an additional 65 cents per hour for employees in the lowest pay grade.

Now, with additional state funding, they’ve added to those increases an additional 4% pay raise for all teachers and administrators, and a two-dollar-per-hour raise for all support staff. For many employees, the district said, this will represent an increase of more than 10%.

The Kyrene School District, like many organizations across the country, said it is facing staffing challenges, particularly among support staff, which includes bus drivers, teaching assistants, the clerical staff and other essential personnel.

It’s the biggest salary increase the Kyrene School District, Lisa Gibson, executive director of talent management, said they’ve had in 20 years.

“We have had such a shortage of support staff over the past couple of years to work with, mainly due to the pandemic, but hopefully that [sic] this increase will help our support staff feel valued and appreciated,” Gibson said.

Hernandez said she thinks it will help her start a new year strong with her students.

“By prioritizing education, it shows respect, it shows value, so that we can do the job that we signed up for,” Hernandez said. “We didn’t sign for the money. We signed up to support our students, but that comes with funding so we can help our students.

The Kyrene School District said it is still looking for middle school teachers and resource teachers for this school year.

The district also offers retention allowances of up to $2,000 above regular pay rates for certain employees.

If you are interested, go online to find out more.

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