Messmer schools to raise teacher pay, narrowing pay gap with public schools

Annysa Johnson:

Messmer Catholic Schools will spend $500,000 to boost teacher salaries by 10% to 30% over the next two years in a move intended both to sustain recent academic gains and uphold the church’s teachings on social justice, its president said.

“If we’re going to exhibit Catholic values of justice, that means appropriate compensation and fulfilling our mission,” said Jim Piatt, whose system employs about 100 teachers on three campuses.

“Teachers should not be paid at a level that qualifies them for assistance or free and reduced lunch,” he said.

The move by Messmer is an attempt to raise its teacher salaries to about 90% of their public school counterparts in and around Milwaukee, said Emily Koczela, its newly hired chief financial officer, who like Piatt had worked in the Brown Deer School District before joining Messmer.

She stressed that the money for the raises would come from internal savings and increases in state-funded voucher payments, and not new pleas to donors.

Koczela said she expects at least some of the other 100-plus schools in the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee to follow suit.

“We’re pretty sure this is going to be a beacon,” she said.