Average teacher salary passes $51,000

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Timberlake Junior High teacher Stacie Lawler reacts to being named 2020 Idaho Teacher of the Year. Lawler was later singled out by Gov. Brad Little during his State of the State address Jan. 6 and received a standing ovation from legislators. (LOREN BENOIT/Hagadone News Network file photo)

The five-year law aimed at boosting teacher pay in Idaho has helped push average statewide salaries past $51,000 a year.

The 2019-20 average: $51,691, according to records obtained by Idaho Education News from the State Department of Education.

The average statewide salary is up $7,486, or nearly 17 percent, since the career-ladder salary law went into effect in 2015, when average salaries were $44,205.

The pay hikes have garnered sturdy support in the Statehouse since the law’s implementation, with K-12 state budgets — and $250 million in combined payouts tied to the law — sailing through the Legislature every year.

As a result, most districts have seen notable increases since 2015. Boise-based iSucceed Virtual Charter School led the statewide pack in terms of dollar-amount growth, with average salaries jumping from $44,775 to $64,133, a 42.3 percent increase.

Here’s a look at average salaries in some of the state’s largest districts:

• West Ada, Idaho’s largest district, increased salaries from $46,416 in 2014-15 to $53,099 this school year, a 14.4 percent jump.

• Average salaries in the Boise district rose from $51,649 in 2014-15 to $61,407 in 2019-20, a nearly 19 percent increase.

• Bonneville, East Idaho’s largest school district, increased salaries from $40,165 to $48,128 since the law’s implementation, an almost 20 percent increase.

• Salaries in the Coeur d’Alene district jumped from $49,559 in 2014-15 to $56,943 this year, a 14.9 percent hike.

• A few districts saw average salaries drop. Fort Hall-based Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy’s number slipped from $48,509 in 2014-15 to $43,600 this school year.

Fluctuation is no surprise. Seventy percent of districts or charters utilize the career ladder — up from about half in 2016-17, according to an EdNews analysis.

The law also targets pay increases for teachers at earlier stages of their careers — an effort to curb attrition and attract more teachers to the field. Gov. Brad Little wants to increase starting teacher salaries to $40,000 next year — and has proposed spending $7.7 million to complete a two-year plan to boost minimum salaries.

Other takeaways from 2019-20 average teacher salaries:

• Before the career ladder, 65 districts were below $40,000. Now, only the rural Prairie Elementary District, in central Idaho, falls below that threshold, at $39,500.

• The tiny Pleasant Valley Elementary District tallied the lowest average salary before the career ladder, at $31,750. Today, the average is $42,503, a 34 percent jump.

• The Blaine County School District topped the average salary tally before the career ladder, at $71,646. The district’s $74,981 still leads the pack.

• Before the career ladder, the spread from highest to lowest average salary was $39,896. Now it’s $35,481, a decrease of $4,415, or 11 percent.

Idaho EdNews data analyst Randy Schrader provided data for this story.

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