TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arizona teachers, among the lowest paid in the country, may be in for a huge pay raise.
Teachers in the state make an average of $48,000, well below the national mark of $58,353.
On Thursday, April 12, Gov. Doug Ducey and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard released details of separate proposals to get our state's educators closer to that national average.
You can see details of Ducey's plan HERE.
Claiming low pay, inadequate student learning tools and limited funding, teacher-led protests have emerged in several states.
Following successful protests in West Virginia earlier this year, educators in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona have followed suit.
Arizona teachers have been threatening job actions unless they see a 20 percent pay raise and boost in overall school funding.
Thursday's developments come after weeks of protests at the Capitol and at schools across Arizona fueled by teacher pay successes in West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Mesnard outlined a plan to boost teacher pay by 6 percent in the coming school year, with annual increases that could lead to a 23 percent jump after five years.
Mesnard's plan would be paid for by redirecting increases in school funding.
The speaker said he hopes this will appease teachers who've threatened to strike if they didn't get an immediate 20 percent raise.
"We're going to make sure teacher pay is our number one priority. There's no doubt about it; this plan would make sure that teachers get raises," Mesnard said.
However, the speaker's plan didn't address all of the demands made by teachers, who have staged "walk-ins" and "sick-outs" across the state as part of the #RedForEd movement.
Beyond teacher pay, #RedForEd wants state leaders to increase overall K-12 spending as per-pupil funding remains less than it was 10 years ago.
Mesnard's plan takes money away from capital improvements -- like new books, buses, building maintenance -- to fund teacher salaries.
Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Educators Association, described thta proposal as a "shell game" that will force schools to make do with outdated equipment and school facilities.
"This will pit teachers against air conditioners and that's a false choice for students," Thomas said.
Ducey said teachers would see a 9 percent raise to $52,175 by the start of the school year this fall. The educators would then get 5 percent increases in each of the next two years.
The raises would be for teachers only, not school staff.
"Education is our top priority in Arizona," Ducey said. "Our teachers are the biggest difference-makers in the lives of Arizona's children. They deserve to be rewarded for their hard work."
Below is a news release from Ducey:
Expect More Arizona released the following statement.