Rep. calls on legislature, governor to identify fund for increase of teachers salary
By John McPhaul
The chair of the Education Committee in the House of Representatives, Deborah Soto Arroyo, called on majority and minority representatives and Governor Pedro Pierluisi to identify a recurring allocation to pay the salary increase of $1,000, approved by law, for teachers in the country’s public education system.
Soto Arroyo specified that, although this increase is not included in the new budget, it is guaranteed until 2025 through federal funds.
“The fact that this increase comes from federal funds, and is not identified in the budget, creates uncertainty in the teaching class. It is the responsibility of the executive and the legislature to identify where the funds for the increase will come from on a recurring basis. My commitment is to continue fighting from the House of Representatives,” Soto Arroyo said, while indicating that he is in communication with the chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee in the House of Representatives, Jesús Santa Rodríguez, and the Teachers’ Association.
The representative recalled that Law 10, which establishes a base salary for teachers in the public system, and provides that both the Department of Education and the Financial Advisory and Fiscal Agency Authority (AAFAF by its initials), annually, must identify, separate, guarantee and certify funds necessary to meet the stipulated $2,750 as the basis of the salary.
“I will be very attentive in defense of the salary of the teachers of the country. Whether through federal or state funds, we have to fight to make that money available forever. They deserve the tranquility and certainty that, as a country, that law will be honored,” Soto Arroyo said.
On Friday, Secretary of the Department of Education, Eliezer Ramos Parés, said that the recurring payment of the teachers’ salary increase is guaranteed for the next fiscal year.
This follows concerns that a provision for this was not included in the budget.
“He confirmed to us that the thousand-dollar increase granted to teachers is included in the agency’s payroll, guaranteed by federal funds until September 2024 and for the rest of the fiscal year with recurring state funds,” explained Victor Manuel Bonilla Sanchez, president of the Teachers Association in written statements.
Ángel Javier Pérez, general secretary of the Association of Teachers of Puerto Rico-Local Union, added that different alternatives are being worked on, including the collective bargaining process, to guarantee in the coming years the increase that raises the base salary of teachers to $2,750.
The leaders assured that the Teachers’ Association, together with its Local Union, continue to make efforts with the Department of Education, the Executive and the Legislative Assembly to identify between $500 $600 million dollars of recurring funds necessary to pay the increase from the fiscal year 2024-2025.