MILWAUKEE — All Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) teachers and staff will get a 4.7 percent raise for the next school year.
The board voted unanimously on the raise Thursday night.
Some said it was a way to reward teachers after a decade of pay raises around one percent.
"For years many of our employees are what we all considered underpaid, and we as a board have worked diligently trying to make this happen and it needs to continue," said board member Marva Herndon.
The raise starts July 1. It comes as inflation is making everything from energy to groceries cost more.
"This is the first time we have seen a significant jump," said MPS Chief Human Resources Officer Adria Maddaleni. "We anticipate, we don't know for sure, but we anticipate considering what's happening with supply chain, with inflation, and everything that's going on right now, that probably next year we'll see a high number as well."
It's also hoped this raise will help recruit new teachers and encourage existing ones to stay with MPS.
Additionally, the board approved the administration's recommendation on how to spend more than $9.6 million in coronavirus relief money. More than a third will go to retaining staff, in part through longevity bonuses.
"The salaries, we have to stay competitive," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley. "And we are not competitive in some of our areas, and we need to take a closer look at that because we are going to continue to see staff come and go."
"I have 17 schools in the seventh district, and at least there was one to two teachers per building that just never showed up because they got snatched away from us," said MPS board member Henry Leonard. "So I am not crazy about going back into that situation. I think we are really in a much more dire place than we think."
The coronavirus relief budge also allocates millions to improvements in literacy, transportation and building maintenance.