Defying the demands of the state teachers union, a committee formed to make recommendations on educator pay voted Monday to bring teacher’s starting salary to $60,000 over four years rather than three.
The four-year plan will consist of a 2% salary increase and a flat dollar increase of $1,875 to the base salary for teachers, nurses and administrators each year until it reaches $60,000 in the 2027-2028 school year.
The argument over the three- or four-year spread grew heated between Cerron Cade, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Delaware State Education Association, which represents teachers and other educators.
The union wants raises faster, saying the state needs them to compete with rising salaries in other states. OMB wants to spread raises out to be more accommodating to the state budget.
“This is kind of embarrassing at this point, and I’m not really sure where we’re supposed to go from here,”.said Rep. Mike Smith, R-Pike Creek during the Public Education Compensation Committee’s meeting.
“I’m just going to go not voting because I don’t even feel comfortable at this point that we’re gonna get anywhere.”
His comment came after Stephanie Ingram, president of the DSEA, insisted that the committee needs to bump starting salaries to $60,000 through a three-year timeline. Maryland recently passed legislation that would bring the starting salaries of teachers to $60,000 by July 1, 2026.
Ingram has pushed for months for the committee to recommend the three-year plan in order to keep the state on pace with Maryland’s law.
“Our recommendation needs to be bold. Our recommendation needs to be one that ensures that we keep pace within our region,” Ingram said.
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The committee needs to make a decision to put its students and educators first, she said, or the state is going to find itself again in a position where it can’t compete with surrounding states.
“We need to commit to our students’ future and ensure that all of Delaware’s classrooms are as fully staffed and up and running as soon as we possibly can,” Ingram said.
She and Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Hockessin, voted against the 4-year plan.
“This committee’s charge is to make a recommendation that we think will make our schools attractive to educators… since there’s a shortage of teachers,” Sturgeon said. “It is not to figure out how to pay for it. That is the job of the JFC [Joint Finance Committee].”
Phasing it in over four years means Delaware will continue to languish in hiring and retention, which ultimately hurts students, she said.
Committee member Cerron Cade, who is the director of the Office of Management and Budget, adamantly disagreed.
“It’s hard for me to make a recommendation without factoring in whether or not it is a realistic recommendation that can be achieved,” Cade said.
“If that were the case then there would be no reason to have any years on it because it would be somebody else’s job to figure out how to fund it,” he said. “So why even have any years phased in? Why not just do it all year one?”
The committee needs to attach some timeline to the plan because it’s not realistic without one, Cade said.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that it’s not our responsibility to factor that into our decision making,” he said.
Cade also pointed out that even though the bottom line for the three-year plan and four-year plan is only a difference of $125,000, adopting the 3-year plan would cost the state around $11 million more each fiscal year.
First on the agenda for the committee’s next meeting will be discussion around recommendations for changes to the pay structure of administrative, financial and senior secretaries, as well as clerks.
The meeting is April 17 at 4:30 p.m. Watch it here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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