Saturday, May 17, 2014

AISD teacher salaries among lowest in Travis County

EDITOR'S NOTE: A final project from the Spring 2014 course.

By Charity Lee and Chris Caraveo

Evidence shows that the rich only get richer when it comes to management versus the teachers who work for them in Austin schools.

The Austin Independent School District recently released the first draft of next year’s salary schedule for teachers. It depicts a 3 percent raise for teachers since last year, which is a one time thing according to the board. This document could particularly catch the eye of millennials moving into the teaching field who want to find economic stability in their field. This could also echo the concern of parents who want to make sure that educators are happy so their child does better in class.

There has been a substantial amount of debate and legislation centered around district progress of its students and the compensation of the teachers. Upon surveying records for AISD salaries there is a large gap between what educators and administrators earn. A teacher can come into the field making $43,286, which is more than decent but as time goes on room for growth proves to be incredibly slow. A teacher in the system who has taught for 5 or more years can only expect to earn about $1,000 more than that. However, make the leap to management and you can expect to earn more than half of that. There is ample room for improvement.

Angelica Evans, director of career services at the University of Texas Law School, is a parent of two kids who have experienced AISD education. Evans says that the teachers who care about their students must often dip into precious personal funds to get the job done.

“In general, many teachers are underpaid and not provided with the resources they need to effectively do their jobs. Those that really care end up spending a good amount of their personal funds for school supplies.”

The Texas Tribune compiled an extensive list of AISD employee salaries, from the superintendent and principals to teachers. This data was gathered in the summer of 2013, and so represents salaries from the 2012-2013 school year. The graphic below displays the salary gap between administrators (superintendent, principals, etc.) and teaching positions (teachers, assistants, etc.)

Click for visualization

An articled posted by the Statesman this year points out that those earning six-figures in AISD management have increased 65% in the past five years. According to AISD 74% of the budget goes to salaries. When taking even a closer look, you will see that former superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, are among the districts highest earners.

This is particularly alarming when you consider the fact that out of the 10 school districts in Travis County, Austin ranks a low eighth when it comes to teacher compensation. AISD must also issue about $160 million to the state for recapture, a process set in place also nicknamed “Robin Hood,” where wealthy districts must submit money to surrounding areas with less property to profit from.

Overall, core class teachers (math, science, English, social studies) are not making near as much as non-core subjects. Elective class teachers are earning a higher average salary than those who teach the topics that students will be tested on.

Click for visualization

Millennials should not worry too much about starting salaries coming out of college. Mario Pina, a fourth grade teacher at Perez Elementary School, graduated last year and immediately got hired after his interview at Perez went better than the rest. He found a principal and teachers who shared the same philosophy of student individualization, and the interview went beyond that. His current co-workers cared about him as a person and his personality suited the position best.

Though this is his first year teaching, Pina said he is not concerned about his current salary.

“I’m not worried about money at the moment,” Pina said. “I do think about the future and once I get into a relationship and have a family. How is my salary going to affect the way I’m living now and is it going to be a sufficient amount depending on how much my spouse makes? Those are the kind of decisions we’ll have to make.”

All that is far from now. Today Pina just focuses on individualizing each student to provide the best instructional methods for each of them.

While Pina may not be concerned about his income right now, that does not mean other teachers are affected by their earnings. It all comes down to lifestyle. Pina selected his apartment before he knew where he would work.

“I’m a single male teacher with no children,” Pina said. “So other teachers who have children definitely have to plan where they live and what kind of luxurious life they want to live.”

Click for visualization

Concerning salaries and benefits, teachers opt into a certain benefits plan at the beginning of the school year. Coverages such as health, dental and vision are available in various packages. Whichever plan a teacher enrolls in at the start of the year determines how great his or her benefits are as the year progresses.

When asked about whether teacher benefits should be modified, Pina said “As far as insurance policies, no. As far as salaries, that’s a whole different subject.”

The gap between teacher and administration salaries has long been an important discussion. Teachers want better wages in the event that resources like books and supplemental materials are scarce. Administrative positions, however, remain the overseers of the schools and districts, so with more responsibility comes a higher income than teachers.

As the salary gap continues, teachers will have to manage more frugal lives and wait for the day when money is not the problem it is now.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.