(Updated Monday, September 17, 2007, at 5:47 p.m.)

The head of Hesperia's teacher's union says a better salary schedule for all teachers is critical for the district.

According to Hesperia Teachers Association President Jim Pace, the HUSD created 140 additional teaching positions for the 2007-2008 school year, 40 of which are still unfilled.

"We need a salary schedule that will keep teachers here," Pace said Wednesday.

The HTA and Hesperia Unified School District officials are currently negotiating a new contract.

Currently, a first year teacher with a bachelor's degree makes $40,672. Salaries go up 9 steps from there, one a year, until a teacher with no additional education will make $60,549 in their 10th year.

A teacher with a master's degree or a bachelor's degree and 66 additional credits starts at $42,310. The salary increases by one step for the next nine years and then four more steps over the next eight years after that, for a final salary of $75,284 after 18 years.

A teacher with a Ph.D., or a master's degree and an additional 18 credits starts at $43,148. The Ph.D. track goes up in a similar fashion to master's degree holders, but with an additional two-year step. After 20 years of teaching in the district, a teacher on the Ph.D. track will make $80,275.

According to the Hesperia City Web site, the median household income in the city as of April 2007 is $49,843.

But teacher salaries aren't quite as good as they might be. For starters, teachers pay approximately $2,600 in benefits out of pocket, unlike many of their peers in other school districts.

Although the HUSD lost some expensive long-term employees over the summer, in part of a "golden handshake" offered to both teachers and support staff, and only one-third of the district's teachers have more than 7 years of experience, Pace said the retention problem affects teachers of all experience levels.

"We're having a hard time holding onto the whole spectrum," he said.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.