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Miscalculation Keeps Teachers' Raises Smaller than Promised

Miscalculation Keeps Teachers' Raises Smaller than Promised

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Sarah Dallof Reporting A counting error is sending Utah teachers back to school with less money than they were promised. The state miscalculated the number of teachers in Utah, which is lowering some raises by hundreds of dollars.

According to the National Education Association, Utah teacher salaries rank 38th in the country. This raise was supposed to help with that and show teachers how much they're appreciated. Now they're feeling a lot of disappointment.

Davis County teachers are sorting through supplies and preparing lesson plans for the start of school next week.

Sixth grade teacher Becky Jackson says, "I love my job. I wouldn't trade it. It's the best job in the world."

But thousands of dollars they were planning on won't be coming as promised.

"It's disappointing and confusing, and it doesn't seem like we'll ever get rid of the confusion," Jackson added.

Last year the state legislature set aside money so every Utah educator could get a $2,500 raise But someone made a costly error, forgetting to count more than 2,500 jobs. Suddenly there wasn't enough money to give the full raises.

Rep. Sheryl Allen, (R) Davis County, said, "There are none of us who have gone through life without making a calculation error."

This error could top out at millions of dollars, one Allen says the Legislature plans to right next session. "The Legislature is firmly committed in the 2008 session to appropriate the additional money."

Until then it's up to individual districts to decide how to handle the mistake. Davis School District says it, along with the teacher's union, decided to give a partial raise now and the rest later.

Chris Williams, with the Davis School District said, "Our hope is the economy continues to fire like it has been and the money will be there."

If it is, 4th grade teacher Stephanie Povey already has it spent, not on herself, but on a new projector and DVD player for her classroom. She says, "Those kinds of things enhance me, my teaching style, the way kids learn."

She and other teachers hope the lessons they'll be teaching his year still apply in the real world. Povey says, "It's a great profession, it really is, and a lot of time the things you're rewarded with aren't financial. But at the same time, when things are promised, they should come through."

Another concern raised was how this will affect teacher recruitment and retention. As of today, Davis County is short four elementary school teachers.

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