An Ann Arbor Public School board member and president of the teacher’s union both underestimated the cost of hiring a teacher by more than 40 percent in a guest column the pair penned for a local newspaper.
Glenn Nelson, a member of the school board, and Brit Satchwell, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, wrote a guest column for Heritage Newspapers, in which they stated the average cost of a teacher including benefits was $65,000 in an article criticizing Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget cuts.
But the average cost of a Michigan school teacher is about $94,195 while the average cost of an Ann Arbor Public School teacher increases to $102,657, according to Michigan Department of Education and Ann Arbor Public School data.
“You have both sides of the bargaining table demonstrating here they don’t really understand the costs that school districts take on by hiring teachers and all of the costs that go into compensating them,” said Michael Van Beek, education policy director of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Maybe this highlights the problem we have with containing costs. If the president of a teachers’ union doesn’t understand how much schools pay in benefits for teachers, there is a real disconnect. That could be one of the reasons why it is so difficult to contain these costs, because even a teachers’ union president doesn’t understand how much teachers cost. That’s not a good place to start negotiations for a new teachers’ compensation package.”
The average salary of an Ann Arbor teacher is $72,000, according to the state of Michigan. School district’s must pay 24.46 percent of a teacher’s salary to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). That would be $18,000 for a $72,000 salary. The Ann Arbor Public School district’s website lists the costs of a teacher’s health insurance. That came to $12,657 overall with $11,070 for health insurance, $1,057 for dental insurance, $450 for long term disability and $80 for life insurance.
The average salary statewide for a teacher is $63,000, according to the Michigan Department of Education. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy did a survey in 2009 of public schools that found the average cost of health care insurance to be $15,786. The MPSERS contribution would be $15,409.
Satchwell and Nelson didn’t return emails seeking comment.