The USD 382 Board of Education approved a pay raise for teachers Monday night. The starting salary for teachers was increased to $33,000. Each teacher will receive an increase of $1,038, and teachers who are moving across the index due to more college hours or a master's degree will receive additional compensation.

"This contract supports our district goal to attract top candidates to our open positions and retain and reward teachers who have provided outstanding service to our students," Superintendent Suzan Patton said.

The district is also absorbing the 14 percent increase in the defined Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance benefit. Supplemental salaries were increased for the major musical director and assistant and sponsors of Eco-Met, Robotics and Science Olympiads.

"We want to be competitive with other school districts," Patton said. "We feel like Pratt has a lot to offer, but it's important to be able to pay a competitive salary."

Young teachers often want to stay in metropolitan areas, she explained, but Pratt has been fortunate in attracting teachers who want to begin their careers here and stay to raise their families. The district has also made it a priority to provide the technological tools teachers need, and has made an effort to promote the district at college recruiting fairs.

In June the Board approved 2 percent raises for classified and administrative staff. The school district is among the largest employers in the county.