Miami is competing with New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles for teachers, superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday while trying to build support for a property tax increase.
"The millennial generation that is graduating and looking for work — they're making decisions about where to work and where to live," Carvalho said during a town hall at Ponce de Leon Middle School in Coral Gables. "Miami-Dade is a great community, but no matter how great it is, if we cannot guarantee fair compensation, … they will not relocate here. And the ones that are graduating here will seek opportunity elsewhere. We have seen that."
The event was the seventh of nine town halls on referendum No. 362. If voters approve the ballot question, the district will raise property taxes to pay for higher teacher salaries as well as more police officers.
Carvalho also warned the state's largest school district could lose employees to nearby counties, which are planning teacher raises, as well. Broward already passed a similar referendum, and Palm Beach has one on the general election ballot.
Treva Burke-Harrell is one of the teachers who is considering moving out of South Florida — or even out of state — if she doesn't get a raise.
Burke-Harrell teaches music at South Miami K-8 Center, and her husband is a high school counselor in Broward County. They own a home in Miami-Dade.
"If it does pass, nope, I won't go anywhere," she said after the event on Tuesday. "If it doesn't, you know, then it's still a possibility within the next three years to make a move. We love where we are but can't afford it on the salary that we're making and the cost of living."
The average teacher in Miami-Dade makes about $47,300, according to the school district. Carvalho said teacher salaries could increase by 12 to 20 percent if the referendum passes, although the specific details would be decided in union negotiations.