Public school teachers in New Mexico are getting a raise soon — it’s a priority for both the governor and state legislators. With record state revenues and a staffing shortage exacerbated by the current pandemic, raising pay is the right move.

The governor’s proposal would mean a 7 percent raise for all education personnel, a bump in pay for some 50,000 K-12 educators and school staff members across New Mexico. The pay raise would come on top of increases to salary levels for teachers under the state’s three-tier licensure system. Minimum starting pay for a teacher would increase to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000.

This is a salary package that takes care of immediate demands — teachers need raises now — but also should attract new talent while potentially wooing educators away from other states.

Maybe, just maybe, money will help stem the tide of retirements while also increasing interest in teaching, whether from recent college graduates or individuals changing careers.

This is one time when more money is the answer. Yet, as teachers point out, money is not the only answer.

The 7 percent raise — welcome as it is — will help teachers catch up with the higher costs of health care. Keeping those costs under control will be essential so raises actually mean more money in pockets.

In Santa Fe particularly, the cost of housing is critical. Many teachers cannot afford to live here. Others simply can’t find a place to live. Efforts at increasing affordable housing must focus on helping teachers and school staff find homes where they teach and work. Groups such as Homewise, as well as city and county housing experts, need to focus on teacher housing as a priority.

This week, Homewise and Santa Fe Public Schools announced an initiative to help eligible public school educators with down payments for homes — some $400,000 is available.

At a Roundhouse rally earlier this week, teachers told us they are overworked, exhausted and in need of support. That means schools will need to be able to hire enough counselors, nurses, social workers, mental health support — the extra personnel who help children so they are better able to learn.

In the classroom, teachers want smaller classes so they can give individual attention. They say they need time to prepare lessons, support for professional development and, especially for beginning teachers, guidance and feedback.

At one point, New Mexico reported some 571 openings for teachers across the state. That number has risen to more than 1,000. Schools affected by the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been unable to hire enough substitutes to keep classrooms open.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called for National Guard members and state workers to volunteer to assist schools.

By midweek, the Public Education Department reported 119 applicants and had issued 70 licenses, including 50 for National Guard members. An NBC News story showed Guard members in classrooms, already substituting. The governor even took her own turn as a substitute kindergarten teacher at Salazar Elementary School in Santa Fe this week.

Though it could be seen as a bit of a stunt, the governor used her spotlight to make an important point: Schools need support right now.

The state is streamlining the process for substitute teachers to obtain a license and is encouraging applications, even waiving application and background check fees.

An adult with a high school diploma, even a college degree, but little training as a teacher is no substitute for a trained educator. But families want their children back at the schoolhouse, not in remote learning. Finding substitute teachers from all backgrounds is a temporary solution for the larger staffing crisis New Mexico public schools face.

A more permanent solution is being debated right now in the Legislature. Pay teachers more. Not only does it meet the moment, raising professional salaries is key to building a pipeline of teachers for the future.