(BISMARCK, N.D.) – During floor debate in the North Dakota Senate today, the majority party voted down raising starting teacher salaries to $32,000 on a partisan 14 to 31 vote with two Senators absent.
Senator Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford, member of the Senate Education Committee put forth a floor amendment to raise the starting minimum teacher salary from $22,500, as it stands in North Dakota Century Code currently, to $32,000.
“North Dakota teachers continue to be near the bottom on starting teacher salaries and teacher salaries across the nation,” Heckaman said. “Teaching is a profession, we require our teachers to have at least a four year degree, we are in a position right now and have the opportunity today to elevate teaching to the profession it is. I am disappointed this Senate did not rise to the occasion, we could have done better.”
Members of the Senator Majority justified dismissing the amendment by stating the Governor’s budget called for $27,500 be written into law to replace the ten year old $22,500 level as the new starting salary for state teachers.
However, due to increased rental and homeowner costs, $27,500 does not adequately compensate a first year teacher, especially in western North Dakota, according to Senator Heckaman.
“During my time in considering and later drafting this amendment, I received several emails in support of this amendment,” Heckaman added. “In one such e-mail, a North Dakota teacher took the time to lay out her monthly expenses with the potential $27,500 salary. This teacher found that after paying bills, housing, food and other necessities, she was left with $350 for student loan payments, childcare, and other miscellaneous expenses. That is just simply not enough.”
Senator Heckaman previously offered an amendment in the Senate Education Committee to raise starting teacher salaries.
All members of the Republican Party in the North Dakota Senate voted against raising starting minimum teacher pay.
Following the defeat of the amendment, HB 1319 passed 45 to 0.