An exhaustive report on teacher, staff and administrative pay in Washington state took center stage this week in Olympia as lawmakers returned for a week of committee meetings in preparation for the upcoming legislative session starting in January 2017.
The report is important because it gives the state legislature critical data and analysis about teacher, staff and administrative pay. That information will go a long way towards helping the legislature finish the remaining work on the landmark McCleary case. In that case, the State Supreme Court has ordered the legislature to pick up the bulk of the tab for teacher, staff and administrative pay.
Turns out that asking the state to pay for most of teacher and staff salaries is a lot harder than it sounds, because teacher pay varies widely across districts, and the types of work teachers are paid to do can also take on many forms. For example, should the state pay for all professional development? For time spent coaching a sports team? For teaching an enrichment class? Or should some or all of those “extras” continue to be picked up by local districts through local levies? And what about regional pay differences that reflect local labor market conditions?
The legislators tasked with coming up with a solution have different ideas on what the state’s obligations are. House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) wants the state to pay for all work outside of the school day, including grading papers, planning curriculum and professional development classes over the summer. Others would like to see the state pay a portion of what’s now deemed supplemental pay, but not all of it. State Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) says the report gives lawmakers the data they need, and now it’s up to lawmakers to figure out the framework for paying salaries moving forward.
By the numbers – Here are a a few key data points from the report:
- Teachers – K-12 teachers earn an average base salary of $52,308 (paid from the state), and local districts add an average of $13,846 on top of that (paid from local property taxes) for an average salary of $64,154, or 102-104 percent of the national average.
- Staff – Teaching assistants are paid an average base salary of $32,340 (paid from the state), with an additional $5,844 (paid from local property taxes) for an average salary of $38,184.
- Principals/Administrators – earn an average of $60,000 (paid by the state) with an additional $50,449 (paid from local property taxes) for an average pay of $110,449.
- Benefits – the report did not include the cost of employee benefits; that number still needs to be considered in any calculation.
Next up – legislators hope to develop a workable plan by January 9 in time for the start of the 2017 legislative session. Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) says the report helps keep the legislature on track to finish its work on education funding in the upcoming session.