Governor’s Proposal Would Raise Starting Teacher Salaries


Wednesday, Gov. Susana Martinez announced proposals to better recruit, retain, and compensate new teachers, as well as reward teachers and school leaders whose students are achieving strong academic growth in the classroom.

Martinez’s plan would increase the minimum base starting salary for teachers in New Mexico by 10 percent and allow every school district to propose a plan to utilize new state funding to provide significant financial rewards to its high-performing teachers and school leaders.

“Teaching is an honorable profession,” Martinez said. “An engaged and effective teacher can take a student who is struggling, falling behind, and becoming discouraged, and help them learn, grow, and achieve academically so that they have a better chance of succeeding in the workplace and in life. It’s critical that we raise the starting salaries of New Mexico teachers and, when they’re successful in helping our students realize their academic potential, reward their success in a substantial way.”   

 The first part of Martinez’s initiative would raise the minimum pay for new teachers, known as “Level One” teachers, from $30,000 per year to $33,000 per year — an increase of 10 percent. 

This $6.5 million proposal would be the first statewide base pay increase for Level One teachers since 2004, and it’s estimated that the pay increase would help nearly 2,000 teachers who will soon begin their careers or who are already in the classroom, but earning less than $33,000 annually. 

The second part of this initiative would provide more than $12 million to help as many as 2,000 highly effective New Mexico teachers and 250 principals be recognized for the success they’re fostering among the students in their classrooms and schools.

Under this proposal, school districts would have the option to craft an innovative plan, subject to approval by the state, for raising the compensation of their high-performing teachers and school leaders. 

One way, among many, that a district could choose to spend the funding would be to provide a $5,000 stipend to its highly effective teachers and a $7,500 stipend to its exemplary teachers. School districts would have not only the option to participate, but also the flexibility to develop the best plan to distribute the stipends — assuming that rewarding effectiveness is at the plan’s core. 

The Governor’s compensation proposal will be part of her budget recommendation for the upcoming 2014 legislative session.