The Union School Board Wednesday night approved an average 7.5 percent pay raise for teachers for the 2013-14 school year.

The board also approved increasing the base pay by $2,500 for first-year teachers to $34,500.

Superintendent Steve Bryant said the raises were made possible because the district has been careful with its reserve fund for the last three years. The district also received more funding from the state for increased average daily attendance through Proposition C.

Additonally, the district health insurance premiums did not increase this year.

“The raises will allow us to attract quality teachers,” Bryant said. “It also keeps us competitive with neighboring districts.”

Washington School District has a beginning salary of $34,950, while Sullivan’s starting pay is $34,000, slightly lower than Union’s new starting salary.

The St. Clair School District starts its teachers at $31,000, while Meramac Valley R-3 in Pacific has a base salary of $30,900.

At the top of the pay scale, a teacher with 24 years’ experience plus a doctorate’s degree would make $66,750, while a teacher at Washington with comparable experience caps out at $70,120, but that is for a specialist degree and 25 years’ experience.

Last year, teachers’ salaries increased an average of 4 percent, with a $1,000 added to the base salary.