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SALT LAKE CITY — Math, science and special education teachers in Utah may be getting a raise.
The Senate Education Committee on Thursday unanimously recommended HB203, which would increase those teachers' pay by $5,100 in 2016. Wages would increase over the next six years until they reach $10,000 above current annual salaries.
The initiative would cost the state $13.4 million in its first year. By the time salary raises reach their maximum in 2021, the state would be paying $42.4 million.
To qualify for the raise, teachers must have a degree in their area of instruction. But the bill was amended to allow the Utah State Office of Education flexibility to award the wage increases on an individual basis to some teachers whose college experience has significant overlap with other topics.
"What we found out was there are some educators who … had taken nearly the same classes, but may not have that same degree," said bill sponsor Rep. Bradley Last, R-Hurricane.
David Fullmer, western division president of the National Association for Music Education and Director of Bands at Utah Valley University, said the bill would leave out other well-deserving teachers in other subjects.
"We are concerned as music educators that there may be some unintended consequences by the passage of this bill," Fullmer said. "We worry about the message it's sending to the other really fine educators in fine arts, language arts, world languages (and) all of the other subjects — (an) unintended message that these subjects are somehow secondary and less important."
Sydnee Dickson, deputy superintendent of the Utah State Office of Education, said the salary raise is targeted at areas of teacher shortages, which are often caused by competitive jobs outside of education.
"We believe it's a way to help attract and retain those teachers that may choose other professions based on credentials they bring to the table," Dickson said.
The bill has already been approved by the House, and it now goes to the Senate. Email: email@example.com Twitter: MorganEJacobsen