Districts responding to declining teacher salaries

From headlines and news stories around the state, it is clear many school districts are using increased state funding to raise teacher salaries more than previous years, with school leaders saying educator pay has fallen behind.

According to reports from the Kansas State Department of Education, the average Kansas teacher salary rose from $42,558 in 2004 to $54,737 in 2017, an increase of nearly 30 percent. However, when adjusted for inflation to 2017 dollars, salaries actually peaked in 2010 at $59,235, and have been declining ever since.

For the 2016-17 school year, the average teacher salary was lower than in 2004, when adjusted for inflation, and almost $4,500 less than the high point in 2010, seven years ago.

Average salaries would have to increase 8.2 percent to reach 2010 levels when adjusted for inflation. With over 33,700 teachers and nearly 5,000 additional licensed personnel often paid similar amounts (counselors, social workers, nurses, speech pathologists, etc.), districts would have to spend nearly $175 million to restore average salaries to 2010 levels. That does not include any increase for other school personal, such as principals and school office staff, central office administrators, and non-licensed support personnel such custodians, cooks, bus drivers, and others. It also does not include any inflationary adjustment for the current school year and next year.

The Kansas Legislature provided an increase of nearly $200 million for this school year and a further $100 million for next school year. In addition to increasing salaries, districts are also expected to replace some of the nearly 2,000 positions school district positions cut since 2009, and to add new positions and programs in areas such as preschool, counselors and social workers, career and technical education, and more intensive support for students struggling academically or at risk of failing to complete high school.

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