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Governing Board approves raises for all YUHSD employee groups for 4th straight year

The Yuma Union High School District Governing Board on Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021 unanimously approved a revised version of the district’s compensation packet, including 5 percent increases in salary and wages to all employee groups.

The latest salary and wages increase will take effect on July 1 and marks the fourth time since 2018 the board has approved recommended raises for YUHSD employees. In that span, teachers have seen a 33 percent increase in salary, a significantly larger raise than Governor Ducey’s mandated 20 percent by 2020 following the Red for Ed movement.

“The Yuma Union High School District leadership and our Governing Board is committed to all employee groups and the increase in wage and salary,” YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson said. “Delivering a high-quality experience in all aspects of public education requires an elite staff. It cannot just be about ‘recruitment and retention.’ As an employer of an organization with more than 1,000 employees serving more than 11,000 students and families, I must ‘attract’ the best candidates possible and work to recruit and retain every year.”

Eighty-four percent of employees have been retained by YUHSD over the past two school years, an increase of 6 percent since 2019 and a more than 10 percent increase from years prior. While professional development opportunities, collaboration, and increased professional advancement opportunities have been contributing factors, annual raises have also impacted the decision for teachers to remain with the district.

“I appreciate our district's efforts in doing their part to support increasing teacher wages,” Gila Ridge High School teacher Kayla Semler said. “As teachers we stick with this job for the love of the job, but this increase in wages can take some of the financial pressure away. The pay increase has allowed myself and others to solely focus on teaching and not have to rely on supplemental income from other jobs or extracurricular activities.”

Cibola High School English Instructional Leader Monique Manifold, who has been teaching with YUHSD for 26 years added: “There have been many studies done that prove that if teachers get a salary that improves on a year-to-year basis, it's immediately shown that students do better. There are a lot of anecdotal and implied reasons for this, but mostly it comes down to two major things: 1) it keeps teachers from working multiple jobs to support themselves and their families, thus making sure that teachers can devote more time to their job and their families, causing less stress and more detailed lesson planning; and 2) it keeps teachers who love to teach in the classroom instead of looking elsewhere for jobs that will pay more. The long-range benefit is that we retain more qualified teachers who help our children learn.

“Personally, the raise makes me feel as if the many hours I spend creating lessons that are rigorous, interesting, and relevant for my students, is appreciated. The board knows that we work hard to make our students successful members of society and their confidence in the teachers they represent allows me to continue to do that important work.”

According to the Arizona Auditor General’s “Dollars in the Classroom” report, YUHSD’s average teacher salary is $56,500, which remains nearly $2,000 greater than the state average of $54,814. YUHSD certified employees also received $11,754 in Prop 301 monies across the 2019-20 school year, the most since the proposition was signed into law nearly 20 years ago.

“The YUHSD Compensation Package is attractive because of leadership over time and the on-going commitment to our mission of EVERY student being college, career and community prepared,” Thompson said. “That mission requires every employee to be committed to our students and their colleagues. Arizona remains in the bottom 40 of the United States and District of Columbia in per pupil funding. Our district will continue to use all resources available to attract, recruit and retain, while advocating for a better Arizona through the necessary funding of public education.”

For more information about the YUHSD compensation packet or to view available openings in the district, please click here.

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org