Fact Check 7: How do Steamboat teacher salaries compare?
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This is the seventh and last installment in Steamboat Pilot & Today’s “Fact Check” series on key topics related to the Referendums 4A, 4B and 4C — Steamboat Springs School Board’s proposed $79.5 million bond and associated operational mill levy, as well as a tax increase for teacher and staff salary increases.
Across the nation, teacher strikes have been in the headlines from Denver to Chicago to South Carolina. The storyline isn’t a new one. For the critical role of educating our youth, public school teachers are chronically underpaid.
In Steamboat, teachers successfully lobbied for a separate ballot measure — 4A — under which taxpayers would indefinitely fund salary increases.
If voters pass the mill levy, the $1.2 million would represent a raise of approximately 6% and could be distributed in various ways across the three schedules: licensed staff, classified staff and administrative staff.
The amount certified and collected would go up every year on the Denver-Boulder-Greeley TABOR CPI — consumer price index — that estimates increases including inflation and cost of living. The annual dollar amount of taxes starts at $1.2 million, with 2.5% growth estimated each year thereafter. In 2049, it is estimated at $2,455,689.
So how does Steamboat, and Colorado, compare with other districts and other states?
Nationwide, the average salary for a public school teacher was $60,483 during the 2017-18 school year (the most recent year data was available from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics).
Among the states, Colorado ranked 32nd with an average annual salary of $52,389. New York topped the list with an average annual salary of $83,585. Mississippi was at the bottom with $43,107.
When adjusted for inflation, the change in Colorado’s teacher salary since 1999-2000 was negative 6.3%.
In 2018-19, the average teacher annual salary in South Routt was $44,581. In Hayden, it was $50,650.
Against the other comparison districts in the accompanying graph, Steamboat’s current salary schedule — a complex system of “lanes” and “steps” related to years of experience and education — was described as weaker on the front end of a teaching career but stronger in the middle and at the end.
In terms of the most recent raise, the Steamboat Springs Board of Education unanimously approved pay raises last May for teachers and staff for the 2019-20 school year, as negotiated by the collective bargaining team.
Teachers will receive a 4.5% increase in pay, while classified staff will receive a 5.5% boost.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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