Students working on proposal to raise teacher pay

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CAMPO, Colo. (KDVR) — Many teachers will tell you that they don’t get into the profession for the pay. According to Teach Colorado, where you work in Colorado depends on how much you will be paid.

At Denver Public Schools, a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree can earn nearly $46,000. But in Pueblo, the starting salary is nearly $5,000 less at $39,000. 

The salary for teachers in rural areas of Colorado is even lower. Some students and educators want to change that. On the other side of the debate, some oppose because Colorado is a local control state, the proposal could run into some issues.

Malcolm Lovejoy is a senior in Campo. His mom teaches at his school where he will be one of four seniors graduating.

“Obviously, teacher salary really affects me, she’s a single mother and it’s something that really matters to me. I can see the impacts of the issue every single day,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy and CU Colorado Springs Assistant Professor Robert Micthell are working together to get enough lawmaker support for a bill that would make sure teachers in every part of the state get paid at least $40,000.

“We estimate the cost to be around $35 million but to replace even a fifth of the teachers we’re looking at would be way more than that,” Mitchell said. “We know there’s a cost involved, and we know it’s difficult in these trying times to figure out where the money comes from, but we also have gotten to the point where we have to do something.”

But because Colorado is a local control state, meaning decisions made about students and teachers are left up to districts and school boards, some opponents say the bill could face an uphill battle when it comes to locking in that $40,000 amount.

Lovejoy and Mitchell said they are working with another high school student and graduate student on a plan to get it passed.

“The way it would work is let’s say Malcolm here is a teacher at Campo High school and he makes $30,000 a year, the state would come in and augment that other $10,000 to get him up to that $40,000 level. As he gets more education and more experience, the district would obviously add more to his salary as it increases. But we really feel like getting baseline of $40,000 is huge,” Mitchell said.

Lovejoy and Mitchell are confident they will get the bill on the docket this upcoming session. We spoke with the Chair of the Education Committee Representative Barbara McLachlan who said she applauds the high schooler for doing his research, but lawmakers will have to really look into the idea to see if this solution is a possibility for the entire state.

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