••• Education •••

District Staffing Decisions Reduce Teacher Pay by $13,700

School lobbyists routinely cite low teacher pay as rationale for more school funding but a new school staffing study shows how districts’ staffing decisions have diverted money from teacher salaries.  According to The Sentinel, a nationwide study by Dr. Ben Scafidi and published by EdChoice.org shows the average Kansas teacher could be paid $13,708 more per year if non-teaching personnel had been added at the same pace as enrollment has grown since 1992.

The report shows Kansas had a 12 percent increase in headcount enrollment between 1992 and 2015 but school districts added 50 percent more non-teachers in addition to 28 percent more teachers.  The extra pay that could have gone to teachers is based on only adding 12 percent more non-teachers and assumes the average pay and benefits cost of $60,000 per non-teaching employee.  Nationwide, there was a 20 percent enrollment and a 47 percent increase in non-teaching staff and a 29 percent increase in teachers, ‘costing’ teachers $11,128 in foregone annual salary.

For perspective, the National Center for Education Statistics lists the average Kansas teacher salary at $47,984 for 2017, which ranks #42 in the nation; the extra money that’s been diverted to hiring more non-teachers would boost Kansas to #12 in the nation.

Dr. Scafidi’s study also shows average teacher pay actually declined in Kansas and across the nation, despite strong gains in per-student spending.  Inflation-adjusted spending jumped 45 percent in Kansas but average teacher pay dropped 7 percent; nationwide, spending was up 27 percent while teacher pay declined 2 percent.  Average teacher pay increased in Nebraska and Oklahoma but declined in Colorado.

All staffing decisions, including the number and type of employees as well as compensation decisions are strictly at the discretion of local school boards in Kansas.  Payroll listings for many Kansas school districts can be reviewed and downloaded at KansasOpenGov.org.