Freezing the Teacher Salary Schedule Could Save $25,000,000 a Year
Towards the end of last session I heard a rumour coming out of Don Cox's office that the state was considering "freezing" the state salary schedule, meaning that the step increases teachers receive in their first 15 years of teaching would be suspended and your salary for this year would be the same as your salary for last year (less the LID days, which is another topic). It was a proposal that didn't get anywhere, but there is a savings there, and I was a little surprised not to see it percolate back up given where we're at in the state budget.
So over the weekend I played with a couple of documents from the Superintendent of Public Instruction. First is the Personnel Report that details how many teachers there are in the state; the second, the salary schedule that shows what we teachers were paid last year and this year. I plugged it all into this spreadsheet:
- The first line is the salary from the 2008-2009 school year.
- Next, the salary that a person in the same column would have received the very next year, 2009-2010, assuming they stayed in the same "lane".
- The next line is the difference between the two numbers; this is the raise that a hypothetical person would have received from year-to-year.
- The fourth line is taken from the personnel summary, and shows how many people in 2008-2009 were at that place on the salary schedule. For example, in 2008-2009 there were 774 teachers who had a Bachelor's Degree only (no additional credits) and were in their first year of teaching.
- The final line is that number of teachers multiplied by the additional salary they would have received, creating a total for every teacher in that cell.
There's a lot of assumptions that go into this: that all those teachers came back, that they were all charged to the state, and that they are reported correctly to OSPI. On the other hand, I'm also not figuring in any increases for moving over "lanes" (e.g., moving from the BA+45 column to the MA+0 column), or mid-year hires, etc. Plus, I'm an amateur--there could potentially be a lot more to be found there, because I"m not looking at the right chart or reading the right numbers in the right way.
But let's say that I'm full of crap and off by even 20%. That's still almost $25 million dollars in potential savings, which is something that we can't ignore. Do I like the idea of taking money from teachers? Absolutely not, but this isn't a "go backwards" deal--it's working to maintain what we already have.
My bottom line is levy equalization. If we can make enough sacrifices in other places to keep LEA, then we've accomplished something meaningful. Offering step increases to those employees in the first 15 years, those who are the most likely to be impacted by district cuts if levy equalization goes away, makes about as much sense as putting on your makeup before a trip to the guillotine.