LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Fayette County teachers will be among the highest-paid in the state starting this fall. After a lengthy school board meeting a new budget was approved raising teacher pay by an average of 8% across the district.

“We are trying every single day to recruit and retain new educators. This is going to be a big piece for us,” Jessica Hiler, president of the Fayette County Education Association, told FOX 56.

Teachers fresh out of college could have been hired by Fayette County in the 2021-22 school year for a starting salary of $44,106. This fall they’ll start taking home a pay bump equal to $50,085 a year, the first district in the state to offer starting pay that high.


“It’s huge money for folks coming out of school looking for their first job,” Hiler said.

Hiler called it exciting, especially as the entire state faces a teacher shortage. As of Tuesday, roughly 4,000 job openings were listed on the state’s educator placement service website.

“What we have found is it’s not just a shortage of available teachers. It’s also oftentimes a shortage of respect and a shortage of dignity,” FCPS Board Chairman Tyler Murphy told FOX 56.

Murphy said the pay raise sends a message not only to teachers but to other districts. The National Education Association ranked Kentucky 36th in teacher pay in 2022. Hiler said smaller districts may have some tough choices to make.

“Those teachers are looking at us now and going, do I want to stay here or do I want to go to Fayette County and make significantly more money? And that’s not the fault of those districts,” she said.

Hiler said Fayette County has the unique advantage of high property tax income helping pay for the overall $867 million budget, but that’s not the case for many neighbors, which is why she’s challenging the state to step in their next budget. Lawmakers in the Kentucky General Assembly will have to pass a new 2-year state budget during the next session scheduled for January 2024.

“That’s where we need to look at the legislature and say it’s time that you step up more than you have been and provide additional funding,” Hiler said.

The average 8% pay raise affects both current and incoming teachers. Hourly positions, like front office staff and bus drivers, will also receive a rate increase.