The unanimous vote by the Dolores School District Re-4A Board of Education to approve a raise in teacher salaries for the 2018-19 school year was the right move, even if in financial terms the raise is largely symbolic.
The raise will add less than $800 to teachers’ base salaries next year, which is not enough, in many cases, to make a significant difference for teachers struggling to make a living in the community.
Some teachers have resigned from the district to pursue their careers elsewhere in the state, and several more have told the board that they will not sign contracts for next year without a pay increase.
By itself, the raise is not going to solve the chronic teacher shortage in rural Colorado, a problem that is larger than just one school district and is being addressed at the state level.
But the raise is an immediate and needed morale boost for a teaching staff frustrated by an uncompetitive salary scale and discouraged by a turbulent 2017-18 academic year.
We understand board member Casey McClellan’s concern that approving the salary increase before the 2018-19 budget is finalized is putting the cart before the horse, but considering the circumstances, we are glad he decided to join the rest of the board in approving it.
The Dolores school board has much to accomplish, including the search for a replacement for Superintendent Scott Cooper and finding ways to attract and keep talented teachers is definitely on the list. But it is important to not lose more teachers now.
Voting for the raise sends the message that teachers in Dolores are needed and appreciated, and the community is working to address the district’s issues.