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Lawmakers Push to Raise N.D. Teacher Salaries - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Lawmakers Push to Raise N.D. Teacher Salaries

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North Dakota teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation, ranking 45th among the states and the District of Columbia. It has been a decade since teachers have had a starting salary increase, but some lawmakers say they intend to change that and they want to do it this week.

Teachers need a 4 year degree to work in North Dakota, they are professionals, and while teaching isn't a career people chose to get rich, the minimum starting pay in our state is $22,500 dollars.

"We like to go on the news shows and talk to our friends nationally, and brag about how we have truck drivers making $90,000," Representative Ron Guggisberg of Fargo says. "I don't think we can brag about that without being a little embarrassed some of our teachers are making less than $30,000 a year.

The governor has recommended raising the minimum starting salary to $27,500 right now 90 districts in the state pay starting teachers less than that.

Bismarck teacher Nick Archutela says, "You look at a district like Mandaree for example which will probably start teachers at $26,000, something like that, they are 2 hours from everything. I mean you think about geographic hardship are from healthcare, from movies from shopping what are you going to do to get teachers to teach there."

It isn't just a problem in the west, teachers say southeast North Dakota also has districts that start well below $32,000.

Senator Joan Heckaman says, "We need to increase that recommended salary to the average in the state. In other words, make the average starting salary which is 32,000 the beginning salary for all beginning teachers."

There have been two attempts this session to raise teachers minimum starting pay to $32,000 dollars. They both failed, but Senator Heckaman says she plans to re-introduce the salary increase as an amendment to the K-12 funding bill this week.

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