There has been a lot of media ink lately about the shortage of teachers. RISD began this school year with 522 new teacher openings and all but four positions filled.

How did we accomplish this feat even as other districts are still scrambling to fill vacancies? Energetic recruiting beginning in November of the previous year, early signing of pre-contracts with soon-to-be-graduates and a revamped salary structure.

We’ve worked for three years reconstructing our compensation package with the following goals in mind:

  • Correct inequities and simplify;
  • Be competitive with neighboring districts;
  • Pay more for extra degrees;
  • Reward experience.

Most teacher-pay rhetoric quotes only the first-year starting salary, and ours ranks 4th in the Metroplex. But more importantly, our pay for experienced teachers is much higher than the competition.

Thus, 56 percent of our 522 new hires are experienced teachers! There was a lot of concern about the loss of valuable teaching experience following last year’s early exit program, so we are particularly proud of this number.

The 75th Legislature passed minimum salary requirements for teachers, librarians and counselors. Since teachers work only 187 days, I’m quoting salary as a daily rate so you can compare it with a standard 250-day year.

Years Experience State Minimum RISD Variance

0 $113.58 $152.41 34.2%

10 $164.33 $188.50 14.7%

20 $202.14 $224.60 11.1%

30 $202.14 $260.70 29.0%

In December, trustees voted to give teachers an additional experience bonus, which worked like this:

Years w/RISD Bonus 

5-9 $200

10-14 $400

15-19 $600

20-24 $800

25-29 $1,000

30-34 $1,200

35-39 $1,400

Perhaps you’re wondering how we’re paying for all this with no tax rate increase. First, tax revenues are rising due to a healthy economy and swelling property values.

And second, we’re plowing payroll savings incurred from the early exit program back into the teaching force, so the dollars stay where they are needed – in the classroom.

We’ve also enhanced equitability and competitiveness in pay scales for principals, technology, paraprofessional, food service and maintanance support staff.

Last to come will be central office. Our administrative ratio remains 8.07%, substantially below the state maximum of 11.05%.

At a human level, it warms my heart when teachers meet me in the hall to say “thank you!” And when I see tears of joy about the December experience bonus, I sniffle, too.