Cayman Islands government school teachers will receive pay raises of between $136 to $640 per month beginning this month.
The biggest gains are for those at the lower end of the teacher pay scale. Specialist teachers will see less of an increase, on average, than their classroom peers, with those at the top of the specialist schedule getting the smallest increase.
Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly announced last year that she would push for a minimum salary of $5,000 per month for teachers. At the time, she said the minimum salary for teachers was $4,200 per month, a figure reported in the Cayman Compass. The actual minimum was lower, however, at $3,689 per month.
The details of the implementation of the pay raise were released by the ministry on Monday. The increase this year will be from $3,689 to a minimum of $4,329 per month, with a promise, from Ms. O’Connor-Connolly to increase it to the $5,000 figure on Sept. 1, 2019.
The new minimum salary for a teacher this year is $51,948. Next year, it would be $60,000. The top salary for a teacher this year will be $5,540 per month, or $66,480 per year.
For John Gray High School P.E. teacher Craig Smith, the increase in pay will mean he can go home to England in March to visit his brother, whose family is expecting a new baby.
Before, he said, the one-week break in March would have been too short to justify the cost of airline tickets.
“I would never have done it,” said Mr. Smith, 33, who is in his fifth year at the high school. “But now, it’s like, ‘Let’s just go.’”
John Gray music teacher Naomi Allnutt, 42, said her husband is also a teacher. Their additional income, she said, will help them with maintenance and improvements on a home they recently bought.
The increase, she said, has boosted morale at the school.
“There’s a bit of buoyancy,” Mrs. Allnutt said.
“I don’t do this job for the money, but the [additional] money is very nice. It gives you the feeling that you’re respected.”
Michael Havlin, 52, has been a high school mathematics instructor for 24 years.
He recalled going through a 10-year period after salaries were frozen in 2002, when teachers received no increase in pay.
He said the pay increase is “a genuine adjustment that we can appreciate.”
He too has seen an improvement in morale among his fellow faculty members, he said, “especially knowing there’s going to be another adjustment.”
The more lucrative pay scale, he said, will help the school to attract better teachers.
“I’m sure you’ve lost a few people not having this in front of you,” he said to John Gray Principal Jonathan Clark, referring to the salary schedule.
“I have,” Mr. Clark said. “It allows us to recruit high-caliber staff. We’ll be more competitive internationally.”
Opal Brown, 39, is in her fourth year of teaching English at John Gray. She plans to spend her additional salary on pursuing a master’s degree online, something that was beyond her means before.
“For the most part,” she said of the pay raise, “people are happy about it: ‘Boy I’m so glad they finally remembered to give us an increase.’ I’ve heard other people say they wonder if other civil servants will feel they should get an increase.”
“It’s great for us,” Mr. Smith said, “but without the other [non-teaching] staff, we couldn’t do our job. The support staff do a great job.”
Those positions were not included in the pay raise.
Mr. Clark said support staff did get a recent increase in pay along with other government workers.
He said he is happy to see teachers being recognized where it counts.
“You could never pay staff the amount they deserve for the hours they put in,” he said.