Early childhood educators in San Francisco may get up to $30,000 pay raise

Many early childhood educators in San Francisco can expect a pay raise.

San Francisco is investing $60 million in keeping those educators in the city.

Kids are too consumed with playing and learning to worry about bills, but many of their teachers do.

Nesanna Lee has been an educator for 30 years and is now teaching pre-schoolers at Kai Ming head start program.

"It's the foundation," said Lee. "It's like when you build a house, you have to have a strong foundation. That's what we need for the children too. They have to have a strong foundation for when they go to kindergarten and middle school, high school and college."

Lee said she's watched as the high cost of living in San Francisco has driven others out of the profession.

"Investing in the teachers is important too because right now a lot of people are leaving the field because we're not getting paid enough," she said.

The city's $60 million initiative is aimed at giving educators a much-needed boost in pay. The program will make sure that educators at tax-funded early childhood education facilities receive between $8,000 and $30,000 raises.

"The goal is to make sure that at least every childcare provider that we fund through the city is making the minimum wage of $28 an hour," said Mayor London Breed.

Jerry Yang, executive director at Kai Ming, said the raises will help him hold onto the best and brightest teachers.

"They have to choose, 'Am I going to stay or am I going to find other opportunities.'" said Yang. "So, this increase from the Department of Early Childhood really helps us to retain teachers."

As for Lee, the raise will mean she can focus on the kids, not her bills.

"It means that my budget is not so tight. I have to count on every penny that I spend," she said.

The program is made possible through Prop C tax funds approved by voters in 2018. That money was held up by court battles until last year.