While the 7 percent salary increases for all educators and the boosted minimum salaries for teachers passed this month by the legislature represent good news for New Mexico public education, there’s more than a little confusion circulating about exactly how these two separate items interact.
Educators are asking if they will receive a 7 percent increase on top of their new minimum salary, or whether the higher minimum will be the only raise they see.
The simplest answer is: It depends.
Without question, though, the raises mean that all teachers in New Mexico will now be paid well above the median individual income for New Mexicans. More on that in a moment.
To explain this year’s pay increases as simply and clearly as possible, it’s important to take a step back and explain how the two raises differ from one another.
The new minimum salaries increase the base pay to at least $50,000 for level one teachers, $60,000 for level two teachers, and $70,000 for level three teachers. These minimum salaries are set in statute, and take effect July 1.
The 7 percent raises for educators are included in the state budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23, which the legislature also passed during the just-concluded session. Neither the budget nor the law change has been signed by the governor, but there is little doubt that will happen.
Educators whose increase to the new salary for their level is 7 percent or more will not receive an additional raise from the 7 percent increases set in the budget. If the new minimum results in a 5 percent raise, then the educator would also receive an additional 2 percent bump thanks to the budgeted increases.
In other words, most educators will see an increase to the new salary minimum, but not more than that.
The exceptions to this rule are teachers whose schools or districts are part of the K-5 Plus or Extended Learning Time programs. Bear with us; this is where it gets a bit complicated.
K-5 Plus (25 extra days of school) and Extended Learning Time Program (10 extra days) teachers get larger raises pro-rated to their additional days of work. K-5 Plus teachers will get at least $56,944, $68,333, and $79,722 for levels one, two and three. ELTP teachers will receive a minimum of $52,777, $63,333, and $73,888 for levels one to three.
But in a little-noticed additional sweetener, teachers in both programs also receive an additional 3 percent raise on top of the higher minimums and pro-rated additional pay for extra days.
While the legislature did not require districts or schools to participate in either program, lawmakers said they hope these additional salary incentives will encourage broader adoption.
It’s hard to argue after these raises that New Mexico public school teachers are underpaid.
The new salary minimums mean that even entry level public school teachers in New Mexico will be paid substantially more than the median income for the state. A level one minimum salary of $50,000 lands a novice teacher in the 66th percentile among New Mexico wage earners. A level 2 teacher, at $60,000, lands in the 74th percentile. And a level 3 teacher’s $70,000 salary puts her in the 81st percentile.
Are you a teacher with questions about how these increases will affect your pay? Email us at email@example.com with the particulars – which we will keep confidential – and we will get you answers within a couple of days.