A pay raise for Victoria school district teachers is a step in the right direction.

Teachers are consistently underpaid and underappreciated, and a pay raise of $2,100, though not enough, is the right move made by the school board to show the board supports the important role teachers have.

The pay raise comes after years of temporary stipends and offers permanent support for teachers.

This last year, teachers have gone beyond the call of duty to keep our students safe while educating them. A pay raise is a great way to thank them for continuing their work in a difficult time.

The Victoria school district is competitive in pay for the first five years of a teacher’s career, but it’s not competitive beyond that, according to a recent study done by the Texas Associations of School Boards.

It reported that Victoria’s average salary is $49,710 and the market average is $53,422.

Essentially, teachers can drive in any direction from Victoria and find a better paying job, but the salary increase now offers incentive for teachers to stay in the district.

Retention is key to bettering student learning and achievement.

As teachers gain experience, students’ academic gains benefit. Attendance improves, as well, according to a 2016 study done by the Learning Policy Institute.

Novice teachers also benefit from experienced peers, according to the study. More experienced teachers offer support for their colleagues and the school as a whole, according to the study.

The community needs to rally behind our teachers and support their raises through a voter approved tax rate election, or a VATRE.

The school board is considering placing a 3-cent VATRE on the Nov. 2 ballot. The ballot item, if approved, would support the teacher pay increase approved by the board on July 27.

If voters do not approve the measure, the district will have to reimburse the budget with federal funding, which will only last about two years. At that point, officials say they will look at cutting programs and staff.

These cuts must be avoided because it would take away any progress the district has made in teacher retention and improving education.

Students need quality teachers and quality programs to succeed in and out of school. Those needs must be supported by the community.

This pay raise and the ballot proposal are both a first step in improving the district. More raises should be implemented in the future to retain our experienced teachers.

As a community, we must come together to support our teachers. Supporting our teachers means supporting our kids.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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