Frederick County Teachers Demand More Pay–Ignoring Reality

On Wednesday, the Frederick County School Board heard testimony about the FY 2009 budget. Among those testifying were Frederick County Teachers Association President Gary Brennan and Vice President Carol Dagan, both arguing for “competitive salaries” for county teachers.

Now don’t get me wrong, Brennan and Dagan have every right, even the duty, to plead their case for more money for teachers. But let’s take a look at some facts. The Frederick News Post conveniently links to a table of Frederick County Public School Salaries. With the FCTA arguing that teacher salaries are not “competitive” you have to wonder, what is FCPS doing paying our teachers poverty wages? Well, lets take a look at the teacher’ salaries at three county schools, Ballenger Creek Elementary, Urbana High School and West Frederick Middle School.

Ballenger Creek Elementary has 42 teachers, including music, art, special ed, intervention and PE Teachers. The average pay for these 42 teachers is $59,489.74. The median salary is $61,061.50, which means that 21 teachers make more than that amount and 21 less that $61,000. The top salary is $82,555, three teachers make that salary. The smallest salary is $31,925, two teachers earn that much. The total teacher payroll (salaries only) is $2.49 million out of a total school payroll of $3.17 million, or 78.5% of payroll on teachers. The average length of service for the teachers at this school is 11.3 years. The median is 9.5 years. There were four new hires in 2007 and 9 teachers (21%) with three or fewer years of experience.

West Frederick Middle School has 68 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $60,989.23 and the median salary is $60,586.50. So there are not a lot of highly paid teachers or lesser paid teaches skewing the salary range, the salaries are pretty well distributed. The top salary is $90,971, with three teachers making that salary, and the lowest salary is $21,550 by a targeted intervention teacher who is apparently working part-time given a six year length of service with FCPS. The total teacher payroll for West Frederick (salaries only) is $4.14 million out of a total payroll budget of $5.42 million. The teachers at West Frederick have an average length of service of 11 years and a median service of 10 years. Only one teacher is a new hire in 2007 and 11 teachers (16%) have three or fewer years of experience.

Urbana High School has 96 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $57,247 and the median pay is $53,886. The top salary is $90,971 and the lowest salary is $30,687. The average and median salaries are a bit lower at this high school compared to the elementary and middle school sampls because the average and median length of service in FCPS is significantly lower. The average length of service is 8.7 years and the median is 8 years. There are 20 teachers (20.8%) with three or fewer years of experience. The total teacher payroll is just shy of $5.5 million out of a total school payroll of $7.1 million.

Take note that these are cash compensation salaries and do not account for the substantial benefits package that teachers receive, including generous pension and health care benefits.

So, teachers at the three schools noted above had a average individual income of between $57,250 and $60,500. The median income, again for these individuals, was between $53,886 and $61,061. Economic data for Frederick County indicates that the median household income in November 2007 was is $60,507 and the median family income is $67,879. Using the lowest median teacher income for the three schools, teachers are making 89.2% of the median household income and 79.3% of the median family income–all by themselves with a generous benefit package. In Frederick County, males had a median income of $42,378 versus $30,564 for females. In our teacher pool for these three schools, female teachers (146) are making a median income of $55,558 on a median experience level of eight years. Male teachers (60) make a median salary of $59,023 on a median experience level of nine years. Thus female teachers in Frederick County are making a 81.7% larger income than the general female population in Frederick County. Male teachers are make 39.2% more money than the general population of males in Frederick County. In all of Frederick County there are 413 teachers employed by the FCPS making better than $80,000 a year.

This analysis is done on just three schools in Frederick County. A larger county wide assessment is worth a look to examine all the teachers, full or part time, in the county, but I suspect the numbers would not be all that different.

For all the bluster about teachers not being paid a competitive salary looks to be pure bunk, particularly when compared to the incomes of the rest of the county. So if teachers are being well compensatd with 413 invididually making some 30% more than the median household income, why then is the School Board even considering more than a cost of living increase in salaries?

The union can ask for more money, but it seems to me that teacher salaries in Frederick County are not only more than sufficient for our area, they are more than competitive with the every other industry in the county.

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