Iowa House passed its teacher pay plan on 93-1 vote

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has passed a plan to raise the minimum salary for teachers by nearly 50% within two years. The current minimum salary is $33,500 a year.

Republican Representative Bill Gustoff of Des Moines said the plan would bring about the largest single boost to teacher pay in state history. “The bill achieves a significant goal set forth by Governor Reynolds to move Iowa’s minimum starting teacher salary to $50,000,” Gustoff said, “and I thank her for setting a bold target that will vault Iowa to the top of the list to attract teachers in terms of pay.”

The plan includes money to help districts not only raise the pay of current teachers who aren’t being paid $50,000 a year, but to pay a $15 an hour wage to other school staff, like paraeducators.

“It provides recognition to educators and those who work in our educational settings and it shows the value we have for them,” said Representative Sue Cahill, a Democrat from Marshalltown who’s a retired teacher.

The bill passed on a 93-1 vote. Republican Representative Henry Cisneros of Muscatine was the lone no.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst said that margin sends a message to the governor and state senators who’ve tied a teacher pay decision to bills that overhaul Area Education Agencies.

“The House of Representatives is united in support of paying our teachers, paying our educators, paying our paraprofessionals in a way that is non-politicized,” Konfrst said, “…and is good for Iowa kids.”

Gustoff called it a “kumbaya” moment. “This is a good bill that checks a lot of boxes and reflects the input of many stakeholders and many policymakers,” Gustoff said. “It brings the parties together and showcases that the legislative process does work.”

The Senate Education Committee’s AEA plan would raise minimum teacher pay, but to a lower level around $46,000 a year. In January, Reynolds also proposed a minimum salary of $62,000 for teachers with at least 12 years of experience. That’s not included in the House-passed plan or the one Senators have drafted.