Teachers in Crook County Schools will be paid more starting in September, with new teachers getting a particularly steep salary increase.

Crook County Schools approved changes to its contract with the Crook County Education Association this week. The biggest salary jump will be for new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no teaching experience. Their new baseline annual salary will be $39,347, which is about 11% and $4,000 higher than last school year. New teachers with a master’s degree will earn $40,998, which is about a 3.8% increase from last year, or approximately $1,500 more annually.

Scott Cooper, chair of the Crook County school board, said offering higher salaries to new teachers would entice talented young educators to Crook County.

“Our issue was making sure our wages were competitive, so we can make sure we can get the best and brightest, and they don’t get attracted by somebody else,” he said.

There are also more opportunities for teachers with only bachelor’s degrees to earn raises as they continue to work in Crook County. Data obtained from Crook County Schools showed that previously, the maximum salary for a teacher with only a bachelor’s degree was $49,987, with slight raises for their first 12 years of work.

Now, those teachers can earn raises for their first 14 years, up to a maximum salary of $57,175.

Teacher salaries across the board, regardless of experience or degrees earned, will go up. The highest possible salary — for a 17-year teacher who has a master’s degree plus 45 higher education credits, or a bachelor’s degree plus 105 higher education credits — was $70,161.

Now, that maximum salary will be $72,617, an increase of about 3.5%.

According to Anna Logan, the school district’s director of business and finance, the renewed teachers contract will run until 2022.

She added that the driving force behind raising teachers’ salaries was to be more competitive in hiring compared to other Central Oregon school districts.

Michelle Nelson, Crook County Education Association’s president, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Jefferson County School District, which is close in size to Crook County Schools, has higher salaries, even after Crook County’s pay raises.

A new teacher with a bachelor’s degree will make $39,855 next school year, and a new teacher with a master’s degree will make $44,597, according to Caree King, Jefferson COunty School District’s human resources coordinator.

But Crook County Schools will pay inexperienced teachers slightly more than its larger neighbor, the Redmond School District. New teachers with a bachelor’s degree in Redmond earned $36,339 last school year, and new teachers with a master’s degree earned $40,663.

Bend-La Pine Schools, the region’s largest school district, also paid teachers more than Crook County and Redmond last school year, but less than Jefferson County. New teachers with a bachelor’s degree earned $37,830 and new teachers with a master’s degree earned $42,559.

However, the Bend Education Association has ratified a revised teachers contract, and the Bend-La Pine school board is expected to vote on it next week, according to Bend teachers union President Janelle Rebick and school board Chair Andy High, so those salaries could change for the 2019-20 school year. The public cannot see the proposed contract revision until the school board approves it, Rebick said.

At its Monday night meeting, the Crook County school board also approved a 3% wage increase for classified employees, which are school employees who do not have teaching certifications. The only exceptions to the 3% raise are instructional assistants, who will earn $1 per hour more, and nutritional services employees, who will earn 50 cents per hour more.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com