PARK CITY — In the latest salvo of the so-called Utah teacher salary wars, the Park City School District announced Wednesday it will pay starting teachers $50,700 a year plus benefits beginning this fall.
Moreover, every licensed teacher in the Park City School District will receive a salary increase of $7,000 under the agreement negotiated between the school district and the Park City Education Association and announced at a year-end event at Park City High School Wednesday. The Park City Board of Education approved the agreement earlier in the day.
School districts across the country are competing to attract the nation's best teachers, said Tim McConnell, associate superintendent over human resources.
“Narrowing the scope to the Wasatch Front, you see the recent increases, and these are the immediate districts with which Park City competes for employees. I’m proud to say that, once again, we have aligned to set the gold standard for compensation for Park City School District’s outstanding teachers," McConnell said.
Many Wasatch Front school districts have announced the outcome of their recent negotiations with local teacher association bargaining units. Many will pay starting teachers around $40,000 plus benefits, although the Salt Lake City School District will offer new teachers about $44,000 a year.
Utah school districts are attempting to attract recent college graduates, address challenges with teacher retention and fill job openings due to retirements.
Most school districts have been able to provide sizable pay raises for veteran teachers as well.
The pay raises were made possible by the Utah Legislature increasing the value of basic education funding units by 4 percent and property tax assessments by local school districts. In Salt Lake County, equalization funds also were used to fund salaries in some school districts and the Granite School District Board of Education voted to increase local property tax to fund an 11 percent increase in compensation.
Representatives of the Park City teacher association said the settlement signifies that teachers are respected, valued and appreciated.
“We all went in with the same interests — attraction and retention of teachers. When we made our presentation, everyone at the table listened, heard our concerns, and responded in a very positive way — with a compensation agreement commensurate with the increased demands of the teaching profession," Renee Pinkney, co-president of the Park City Education Association, and Janice Jones, association negotiator, said in a prepared statement.
Superintendent Ember Conley said the school district is committed to recruiting and retaining top teaching talent.
“When our community combines exceptional instruction with modern, safe and efficient facilities, we can ensure that Park City students continue to receive nationally recognized, excellent education. We’ve seen the effect the best teachers have on our students already, with growth in Advanced Placement participation, gains made in shrinking the achievement gap and increases in our already-estimable test scores," Conley said.