Analyzing median teacher salaries

In late April, Patrick O’Donnell, education writer for the Plain Dealer,wrote an article comparing median teacher salaries around the state. He noted the disparity in average and median salary among districts statewide, as well as the large discrepancies among districts in our region. 

Overall, school districts in Northeast Ohio pay higher salaries than much of the rest of the state.

O’Donnell pointed out several other trends, as well. Among them are differences between urban and suburban districts, career/tech and traditional schools, and between public and charter schools.

O’Donnell noted that CH-UH ranks 5th in the state for median teacher salary, around $84,538. There are several things to note about this statistic. The teacher salary schedule for our district has a base pay of $43,011, for a teacher in his or her first year who holds a bachelor’s degree. 

Salary increases are based on number of years teaching plus additional education. For example, a teacher with four years experience and a master’s degree earns $50,452. A teacher at the top of the CH-UH salary schedule—14 years experience and a doctorate—earns $92,818.

Salary schedules across Cuyahoga County have many similarities. A recent analysis shows that the CH-UH starting salary is $2,000 higher than the average starting salary among 31 districts in Cuyahoga County, with 17 of those districts having starting salaries between $40K and $45K. 

At a random point, say 11 years experience and a master’s degree, CH-UH still lands in the upper middle range, at $76,904, in which 16 districts pay their teachers between $70K and $80K.

This tells me that our salary schedule is competitive, but not the highest.

CH-UH teachers reach the median salary when they have 12 years experience and 30 hours of graduate credit after a master’s degree (or 13 years experience with 10 hours of graduate credit). 

Although I was somewhat astounded by our district’s median salary figure, Scott Gainer, the district’s chief financial officer, confirmed it.

When I looked at the longevity of our faculty, I realized that more than half of our teachers have been working in the profession at least 13 years. In other words, a high median salary shows more about the experience of our teachers than it does about the salary schedule.

I do not know what prompted O’Donnell to write an article comparing median teacher salaries in the state, but without analyzing longevity, additional education credits, and a host of other factors, it doesn’t tell us much more than the salary of a teacher in the middle of the seniority and education pack. 

Last fall, I published two demographics of our entire membership.

One showed that out of 524 members, 15 are in their 20s, and 56 are at least 60.

The other showed that 204 members have less than 10 years experience in the district, 222 have 10–19 years, 90 have 20–29 years, and eight had at least 30 years.

To me, this kind of information makes it both more useful and informative when analyzing salary trends.

Ari Klein

Ari Klein is a lifelong community member, math teacher at Cleveland Heights High School, and president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 4:07 PM, 06.01.2018