Reported WW teacher pay not quite accurate

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Just because it came from the Department of Education, doesn’t mean the information isn’t misleading.

The 2016 School Corporation Annual Performance Report for West Washington listed the minimum to maximum salary range at $25,745 to $67,313. The minimum is shockingly low and as it turns out, there’s a reason for that.

“The number listed was for an employee who is a half-time teacher and half-time filling another position,” said West Washington Superintendent Keith Nance, meaning the school’s general fund is only paying the $25,745 and another fund pays the rest.

West Washington is hiring first-time teachers with no experience for $35,000 a year, with the potential to raise the offered salary to a bit more than $37,000 if the position is one that desperately needs to be filled and the competition for teachers for that subject is high.

“It gives some flexibility for how we can handle the situation we’re in right now [following the upcoming retirement of 11, mostly 30-plus-year teachers],” he said. The school is getting ready to hire for almost every one of those opening positions, Nance said, adding that “we got on it quickly and we’ll be filling them with great people.”

Statewide, the minimum pay for a teacher is $24,000, possibly regarding positions similar to the one at West Washington, and the maximum is $90,000. At Salem, the minimum salary is $36,677 and the maximum is $69,976 and at East Washington, the minimum is $36,950 and the maximum is $71,242. These numbers are often subject to change at individual schools, depending on whether the school has any first-year teachers on the payroll or teachers on the higher end of that spectrum to impact the statistics.

“Teachers across the board are grossly underpaid for what we do,” said Nance. “We’re bound by norm data and funding levels. It’s easy for me and school board members and people who see what they do every day to say they should be paid more, but it’s often hard to find room in the budget for raises.”

Nance said when the compensation model changed to include evaluations, leadership and academic needs of students, rather than just experience, it put a bit of a pinch on younger teachers.

“[They] don’t have the same ability to increase their income,” he said. “It’s hurt the number of people wanting to be teachers to begin with. It’s a lifestyle and a calling and people go into it now knowing there will be limits to what they can do financially.”

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