In Friday's editorial, "No teacher raises = less budget woes," the Star-Telegram Editorial Board yet again tried to paint any efforts or discussion of raises for employees as "nonsense." What is nonsensical is the notion that a lack of a teacher raise has no impact on the district. It does, and it is a real and personal impact on every employee of the district.The hardworking employees of the Fort Worth school district are facing two years in a row with no salary increases or acknowledgments of their efforts. Just like all other workers in our community, the cost of living continues to increase.In addition, the state of Texas has passed on hefty health insurance premium hikes with more out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. The modest 1 percent salary increase proposed by Trustee Juan Rangel would have been barely enough to stanch the bleeding from employees' paychecks.There is also a larger woe the district will experience for not providing any type of salary increase. Fort Worth schools will not have competitive salaries needed to retain high-performing employees or to attract the highest-quality teacher applicants. The district finds itself right in the middle of one of the most competitive regions of the state but only ranks 16th out of 31 area districts for beginning teacher salaries, according to our association's comparison.A teacher in Fort Worth with five years of experience makes less than a beginning teacher in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Irving school districts. History tells us that more than half our current teachers will leave our district or the profession altogether by the end of their fifth year.Teachers in Fort Worth already face myriad challenges by working in an urban school setting. How tempting it must be to consider a suburban school district right down the road that pays much better.There are those who will say our teachers and employees will not leave because there are no jobs for them in other districts. This is just whistling past the graveyard. The financial handcuffs many are counting on to keep employees in Fort Worth will be broken as our national, state and local economy improves. Already this year, surrounding school districts have begun hiring more teachers and have provided salary increases for all employees.Without a competitive salary structure for all job categories, Fort Worth schools will one day in the near future find themselves in the district of last choice.For many years, the Editorial Board of our hometown newspaper has opposed raises for our teachers. The Texas Legislature severely cut funding for our schools, resulting in increased class sizes.While we have a new superintendent who is moving the district in the right direction, employees have watched hopelessly in years past as blunder after self-inflicted blunder occurred in our district, resulting in terrible technology information systems, hiring and staffing mistakes, and exorbitant legal fees and lawsuit settlements for things that should have never happened.Through it all, the teachers and employees of our district have placed their focus and energy every day on the children they teach despite all of the pressure and distractions. They know their highest priority is the students they serve.When will our community begin to place a higher priority on our teachers?Steven Poole is executive director of the United Educators Association, which represents more than 20,000 public school employees in North Texas.