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While Salaries Decline, Total Cost For Michigan Teachers Increasing

Some educators cost more per hour than their superintendents

While average teacher salary has dropped over the past several years, the cost of employing a public education teacher is getting more expensive, according to state data.

MLive did a story in December that said when factoring in inflation, public school teacher salaries in Michigan have dropped 8 percent from 1999-00 to 2012-13. 

But that article looked at just one aspect of the cost of a public education teacher.

From 2003-04 to 2010-11 (the latest year data is available), employee insurance costs have increased by $249 million while mandatory coverage (contributions from state and local retirement, employer social security and worker compensation) have increased by $447 million. Meanwhile, salary costs dropped by $231 million. The data comes from the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information.

In one Michigan school district in 2011-12, nearly 70 teachers cost their district more per hour than the superintendent.

"Average salary isn't the whole story," said Audrey Spalding, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "Teachers receive health insurance and retirement benefits as well. And while average teacher salary has declined slightly in recent years, health insurance costs and retirement costs have increased."

And while the average teachers' pay may have dropped 8 percent when factoring in inflation, that doesn't mean individual teachers are earning less money. There are fewer 50-and-over teachers today and those are the highest paid teachers since almost all Michigan teachers are paid on a salary scale that is based on years of service and level of education.

For example, according to the union contract, a teacher with a bachelor's degree starting in Brighton Area Schools in 2005-06 made $37,924 in his or her first year. That same teacher would be making $59,119 with a bachelor's degree in 2013-14 in their ninth year of employment.

In fact, some teachers in Michigan make more than the superintendents based on an hourly rate when factoring in total compensation.

In the Anchor Bay School District, there were 69 educators who cost the school district more than the superintendent on a per-hour basis in 2011-12. The highest paid teacher taught band, worked 10 months, had a salary of $96,183, and when all costs including mandated payments and benefits were included, had an hourly rate of $91.08. The superintendent had a $158,119 a year salary with a total cost of $76.02 an hour.

In Algonac Community Schools, a teacher whose contract called for 1,274 hours a year made $97.22 an hour in 2012. The Algonac Superintendent's total compensation cost came to $92.04 an hour based on 2,080 hours a year. That teacher made $79,174 but the total cost to the district rose to $123,856 when benefits and mandated contributions were included. 

"The average decline in teacher salary does not mean that all Michigan teachers are earning less," Spalding said. "Nearly all Michigan teachers are on a salary schedule, meaning that they receive a guaranteed salary increase each year. The overall decline in teacher salary may just be an indication that older teachers have left the profession."

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See also:

A Closer Look At Teacher Salaries In Michigan

Michigan Teachers Rank No. 2 For Salary

Union Pay Scale Ignores Exceptional Teachers

Average Teacher Salaries Climb

Union Salary Schedule Ensures State 'Teacher of the Year' Earns Near Bottom In Pay

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