By Caroline Vandergriff

(CBSDFW.COM) – Many North Texas teachers will see bigger paychecks or COVID-19 bonuses at the start of the next school year.

Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, and Denton all approved pay raises Tuesday night, in large part as a response to the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

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“[Teachers] were asked to change quickly and teach students both virtually and in-person at the same time, and that was unmanageable,” said Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association, which represents more than 26,000 school employees in 43 North Texas districts. “So there were a lot of teachers who chose to retire or leave the profession altogether.”

New pay raises and incentives will help districts keep the staff they currently have and potentially attract more people to the job.

Both the Fort Worth and Arlington school boards passed a 4% raise for district employees on Tuesday.

Denton and Mansfield approved 2% raises. Denton ISD employees will also get a $500 retention bonus.

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On Monday, the Irving ISD Board of Trustees voted to give a one-time bonus of $2,000 to returning staff.

“That goes a long way, especially for some of our lowest paid employees like bus drivers and teacher assistants,” Poole said.

Argyle, Richardson, and Lewisville have also approved pay raises for teachers.

Poole says many of these increases are larger than what’s been seen in years past.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “The salary increases combined with better working conditions is going to be helpful in bringing folks back, but we’re also competing against private sector. The private jobs are increasing their starting salaries and their pay, so it’s not just competition among school districts like it used to always be.”

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The Dallas school board is set to adopt the district’s budget tomorrow. If approved, the average teacher will get about a 2.5 percent raise.

Caroline Vandergriff