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Teacher pay in the Lodi area is a crazy quilt

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Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:20 am, Sat May 19, 2012.

At $58,052, a 10-year teacher in one of San Joaquin County’s smallest school districts, Oak View, earns more than a 10-year teacher in Elk Grove, which is among the state’s largest districts. That current annual salary is $57,878.

But with a $66,909 salary, a 10-year Galt Joint Union High School District teacher earns more than either one.

The same 10-year teacher in Lodi Unified School District earns $57,670 annually.

When it comes to teacher pay, the Lodi area, and all of California, is a crazy quilt.

Some small districts pay better than large ones. Some provide stipends and rich bonuses for years of service. Some provide extra pay for special certificates, such as special education. Still others provide benefits that might compensate for more moderate wages.

While pay and benefits vary widely, there is one somewhat surprising trend: Despite the state’s economic doldrums, teacher pay is generally on the rise.

Contract by contract

Salaries all come down to the employee contract, typically renegotiated every two years. These documents are public, and most are published on the respective districts’ websites.

Pay often depends on college units earned.

First-year uncredentialed teachers in the Galt Joint Union High School District with just a bachelor’s degree, for example, are paid $34,004 annually. But if they have earned not only a credential but 45 additional college credits, pay jumps to $43,263.

By earning an advanced degree, a teacher can also earn an annual stipend. It varies from district to district, but in the Galt high school district a master’s degree earns an additional $987, while a doctorate gets an extra $1,389.

Annual salaries also increase with longevity; the longer teachers stay in one district, the more they can earn. Lodi Unified’s salary schedule, for example, has an automatic 3 percent increase per year of employment.

Of all the area districts surveyed, at $85,613, the Galt high school district pays the most for 26 or more years of service — that’s roughly $10,000 more than teachers who work for both Lodi Unified and Stockton Unified school districts for the same amount of time.

Comparatively, Galt Joint Union Elementary School District’s scale tops out at $74,812 annually for a teacher with 21 or more years of service.

Jeff Johnston, president of the Lodi Unified teachers’ union, is not surprised that there are variations in salary schedules district by district.

“Examining one point, say the 10-year mark, at each district will result in differences. Questions to consider also include how many units of continuing education an employee has, how many columns the employee group salary schedule has,” he said. “It is impossible to pull on one string alone of any district’s economic condition without also examining the other interwoven conditions that exist.”

At charter schools, salaries are set by administrators as there are no teacher unions to negotiate.

Salaries for teachers who work at an Aspire charter school are set by a principal within a pre-determined range, according to Elise Darwish, the Oakland-based corporation’s chief academic officer.

To create the range, Aspire uses comparable salaries within the district.

“We always look at being competitive with the district,” Darwish said.

At Aspire schools within Lodi Unified, a first-year teacher with a master’s degree typically starts at $43,677 while a 10-year teachers, on average, makes $53,083, which is lower than any other district in this area.

There are no teacher unions, so — much like the private sector — the school’s principal offers an applicant a salary based on his or her experience and special skills such as speaking a language other English, Darwish said.

“There’s a trade-off in the security of my position instead of focusing on the salary,” she said, adding that at 90 percent Aspire has a high teacher retention rate than most districts.

The teachers have not received raises for a couple of years due to the economy, but when the economy recovers Darwish said all of Aspire’s teachers will receive raises for having stayed the course.

Most going up

Despite a sluggish economy and continued budget cuts, California teacher salaries overall continue to rise.

The average teacher in the state last year earned $67,932 (compared to the $51,334 mean salary of all jobs in California), not including health and retirement benefits. Just five years ago, it was $57,000, according to the state Department of Education.

This is likely because in recent years, the newest, youngest and lowest-paid teachers have been laid off due to budget cuts at districts statewide, thus leaving the more experienced and higher-paid teachers.

That’s not the case in Lodi Unified.

Due to a retirement incentive offered to teachers with the most experience, the district has actually spent less on salaries in recent years. It does not make sense for a teacher to remain teaching if he or she is at the end of the salary schedule with 25 to 30 years in the system to remain in the position with less pay, Chief Business Official Tim Hern said.

In 2006-07, the district spent roughly $101 million on teacher salaries, compared to just $86 million last school year.

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, isn’t convinced regular pay raises are necessary.

“The teachers unions are always singing the blues about how tough life is and how underpaid their members are, but depending on who’s counting, California is first or second in teachers’ pay,” he said. “But they continue to use the students as human shields and imply if they don’t get more money for more wages and benefits, somehow your children are going to suffer. They say, ‘It’s for the children.’ No, it’s usually for salary and benefits.”

The state’s teachers are among the highest paid in the country, but they also have among the highest costs of living.

For example, six of the top 10 average salaries statewide are in the Bay Area — although the highest is Montecito Elementary School in Santa Barbara, where an average teacher earns just over $101,000 annually.

Locally, Galt Joint Union High School District teachers earn, on average, more than their counterparts in the greater Lodi area. A first-year teacher, for example, starts with an annual salary of $41,497, compared to $38,010 in Lodi Unified.

Union president Alex Bauer said the discrepancies among districts have to do with benefit caps used in negotiations.

For example, Stockton Unified teachers pay about $150 out of pocket a month for a health plan similar to the one the Galt high school district employees pay $800 per month for, according to Bauer.

Teachers in Elk Grove negotiated to receive lifetime health care benefits that make up for lower salaries, he said.

“When a district negotiates an increase in benefits, the salary schedule will be lower,” Bauer said. “Correspondingly, if an agreement is reached to reduce benefits, there is usually an increase in salary as a result.”

Lodi Unified trustee and former teacher George Neely said the contracts are so different because not only are they negotiated on a district-by-district basis, but they encompass many facets, including health benefits and working conditions. He pointed out that Stockton Unified, for example, pays substitutes more per diem than Lodi Unified.

“It’s a rough place to work,” he said.

Neither Vosburgh nor Neely support a regional or statewide benefit guideline standards for all teachers. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association favors local control of taxpayer money, and individual teacher contracts reflect this.

“As long as the teachers have agreed to the contracts, the teachers aren’t harmed,” Vosburgh said.

Neely said differences in schools need to be taken into consideration, and he feels some working in specific areas should get paid more.

“Should we pay Title 1 teachers more? What about combo-class teachers? We need to take a hard look at how we compensate teachers,” he said.

What about bonuses?

In Washington, D.C.’s public schools, bonuses are being tied to academic performance in a practice commonly known as “value added.” That doesn’t happen in California, but it is being discussed.

Aspire Public Charter Schools, for example, is working on a merit pay system thanks to a grant from the Bill Gates Institute. Darwish estimates it will be in place by the end of next school year.

In the meantime, the organization continues to pride itself on providing instructional support which includes weekly teacher collaboration sessions.

“We invest a lot in teacher support. We just feel like salary is one part of the teacher picture,” Darwish said.

The California Teachers Association has opposed use of a value-added method, saying that students’ test scores don’t accurately reflect a teacher’s effectiveness. In mainstream public schools, evaluations fall under collective bargaining agreements.

However, Sacramento-based Students First, a nonprofit headed up by outspoken education critic Michelle Rhee, has proposed paying teachers substantially more for effectiveness. So far, the group has been unsuccessful in putting the practice into place in California.

In the end, Neely said being a teacher is a good way of making a living. “I’m not saying they’re overpaid ... but if you have two teachers in a family at the top of the pay scale, that’s $160,000.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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  • Mike Adams posted at 9:37 am on Mon, May 21, 2012.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    Darrell, go here:

    If you want the low down on who has to pay for what. You'll see some of the regs are quite old.

    Any reason you picked Missouri instead of some other state?

  • Christina Welch posted at 9:31 am on Mon, May 21, 2012.

    Lodi 1970 Posts: 85

    Just a point of clarification...
    The comment I made about public education not being an entitlement was posted in response to Mr Baumbach's comment about Democrats being responsible for all the federal entitlements we now have. This was in response to a letter to the editor, not this article. In my post, I was simply correcting Mr Baumbach's error and was referring solely to federal spending issues, i.e mandatory (entitlements) vs discretionary spending. In terms of federal spending, education is not an entitlement program; Social Security is. I do not appreciate my comments being taken out of context, and I hope now my point is clear.

    And, Ms Bobin--REALLY?!? It's getting kinda old...

  • Mike Adams posted at 7:50 am on Mon, May 21, 2012.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    "And, have they been doing the job of educating the children in aspects that keep us free and sovereign? How many high school students do you know who have barely more than the most basic understanding of governmental civics? Do we really want to continue to allow the state to have the authority to govern education?"

    Darrell, if I may borrow a line from the weasel, you know I wasn't talking about shoes and socks, unless you are referring to band uniforms/athletic uniforms required for participation in extra-curricular activities. Just because the school may be required to furnish them, as I said, it doesn't mean many parents have taken advantage of that. There was a case in the Sacramento area just in the last 5 years or so regarding this very issue. A parent objected to being required to pay for some sort of uniform, I don't remember if it was band or cheerleading, but after only a very brief term of discussion, the school district recapitulated and paid for the student's uniform.

    If you are a K-12 student in CA, you don't have to buy books, supply paper or pencils, pay for school district sponsored tutoring...., really nothing. You are expected to buy your own clothes obviously, and I was only referring to having to buy individual students in need coats, shoes, etc. out of my own money. JK was opining on a similar issue recentlly and really demonstrated he has no idea what kind of shape even some Lodi kids experience financially. I"ve seen kids with shoe where the sole was just barely hanging on. I had a student a long time ago who, and I'm not making this up, wore the same clothes everyday to school. When it rained, no overcoat. When it was cold, no coat for warmth. Very nice student. Very good student. Very sad. Her parent(s) were not up to the job and I think she bounced around for place to place. There are students like this in Lodi. We just don't notice them.

    I'll get back to the constitution stuff in a minute.

  • John Kindseth posted at 8:32 pm on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    John Kindseth Posts: 228

    When you hear the words "It's for the Children....."

    Decide how the children will benefit, then make your decision.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 12:57 pm on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    CA constitution. It says no student will be required to pay for anything K-12.

    Sounds like a conclusion you drew from what you read. For example, I doubt that the constitution states it will pay for student's shoes and socks... when you said "anything"... it leaves to the imagination what anything means.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 12:17 pm on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Mike stated...HHmmmmm.... Darrell thinks it's important that high school students should know their government and it's operations,

    I am curious Mike...Can you post what I stated that would lead you to conclude I think what you posted above... I do not recall ever stating what you said.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:57 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Excellent comments, Mr. Adams.

  • Mike Adams posted at 11:40 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    HHmmmmm.... Darrell thinks it's important that high school students should know their government and it's operations, yet in another letter today, the author miss states the amount of compensation given yearly as $200,000 (Its' $400,000). A technicality perhaps, but still wrong.

    A poster here some time ago tried to list the qualifications for being elected president. The poster listed two (being 35 years old/being a citizen) and left off having to live IN the USA for the all of the previous 14 years. When called on it, the poster suggested he was listing only the "major" qualifications. So the Constitution now has "major" and "minor" parts? (For the record, I don't think it was Darrell, but a poster who is always "right" and likes to blame everyone for what ever happens to them)

    Although Darrell did question whether or not public education is an entitlement and posted a portion of the Missouri Constitution stating that it was. Darrell, you should check the CA constitution. It says no student will be required to pay for anything K-12. Really. It's in there. I don't recall the exact passage, but it's there. That means they don't even have to buy pencils or paper. We also can't charge them for participation in sports or any other activity. We do, but almost no one has called any district on it.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:30 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Ms Bobin, was there something concerning the content of the post that appears confusing for you? Im always enthusiastic about helping people like yourself who some how look bewildered.

    Ms Welch made a statement and I responded to clarify why I referred to education as an entitlement. There were many articles to select from. I liked the one I posted. If you have information that clarifies the point better, please post it as truth and accuracy is more important who gave the best answer.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:58 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Congrats, Mr. Baumbach. You are doing so well with that new tool you are using - Google.

    Just type in "is public education an entitlement" and up comes the first reference - Mr. Baumbach's definitive "Missouri Constitution" article.

    And so cute - he actually responds to his alter ego, Christina Welch!

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:10 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Christina Welch posted at 12:08 pm on Fri, May 18, 201… K-12 public education are not entitlements.

    Christina, you may be technically correct, but in my view I see it as an entitlement. Let me explain where I am coming from by the following…


    The Missouri Constitution states:
    A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all persons in this state within ages not in excess of twenty-one years as prescribed by law
    So, there you have it. The Missouri Constitution mandates the entitlement, and while it is pretty hard to argue with the logic that knowledge and intelligence are essential in maintaining an informed and free electorate, is it really the responsibility of the state to educate our children? And, have they been doing the job of educating the children in aspects that keep us free and sovereign? How many high school students do you know who have barely more than the most basic understanding of governmental civics? Do we really want to continue to allow the state to have the authority to govern education?
    Perhaps the answer to the question is that education became an entitlement program when it was evident that there was so much money to be had by tapping into the endless source of government funding (tax dollars) and our children have, subsequently, become commodities or human capital instead of children who need an education in order to lead us into the future.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:46 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Wendy stated...Merit pay versus automatic pay.

    Exactly,if their is merit in pay, then quality of work is rewarded economically. simple... all teachers are not created equally, except in the mind of the union.

  • Mike Adams posted at 8:01 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1271

    Maybe somewhere else in CA, but I doubt local teachers have seen any raise in the last couple of years. LUSD teachers took a cut and pay has remained otherwise flat. SUSD teachers have taken a cut and pay has remained otherwise flat. Other local districts are most likely in the same boat.

    Compare that with other important government type jobs: Fireman continue to be paid more that teachers. Police continue to be paid more than teachers. Correctional officers continue to get paid more than teachers. Add in overtime and even a low level deputy, police officer, firefighter, correctional officer are doing far better than any teacher in the county. Plus teachers have little opportunity for overtime. I'm not knocking law enforcement, firefighters, or prison guards. The deal they got is the deal they got. More power to 'em.

    And their pension packages are tremendous. I would have loved to be in CalPERS rather than STRS. Again, the deal they got had to be approved by someone who was elected. If you want to complain about compensation, complain to the boards who made the deals.

    Teachers get paid well, but we are no longer on an equal basis with any other group except state employees who have seen their salaries cut in recent years. Is this the route you want to take? Do you want your kids in a school district known for low teacher salaries? What kind of , who are you going to attract?

    What law enforcement officers buy better equipment than they are issued? How many buy they're own bullets or vests (with trauma plates)? Teachers annually provide the majority of fiscal support for their classrooms. Do correctional officers go to OSH to buy paint to touch up their part of the prison? Do firefighters buy and or replenish their air tanks at their own expense?

    Maybe those who complain about teacher salaries should pop into STAPLES and buy a couple of cases of paper because the school is out of it. Or pencils. Or erasers. Or maybe a lap top you can take to and from work and keep your grades or other important information on? Or buy slides and preserved materials for a science class. Maybe some live protists (minimum order $25 plus S/H)? How about binder paper because you know there are some kids whose resources are so low that the only way they get materials for school is from their teacher. Maybe you could outfit a student or two with new shoes because literally, theirs are held together with duct tape? How 'bout a coat in the winter? What about the family that has been kicked out of their apartment or house because a new landlord bought it and are now sleeping in their car or some sleezy motel on Wilson Way?

    I'm not seeing a lot of hands going up. Come on.....who's going to be the first?

  • wendy coe posted at 7:17 am on Sun, May 20, 2012.

    wendy coe Posts: 33

    If LUSD teachers had not voted to shorten the school year 2 years ago and taken over a 10% pay cut, they would have remained on the top. The incentive helped the district to retire many of the teachers at the top. Teachers work hard and deserve good pay. Yes, there is always some that won't do a good job, but that is up to the supervisors to rid the district of the non-performing teacher. Unionizing the explanation of over paid is not the problem. It was the unionized group that negotiated the pay. It is a fact or how the system works, today. I think that is part of the debate on how to handle teacher pay in the future. Merit pay versus automatic pay. Gee, would you want you child in the low pay teacher's class due to their performance?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:00 pm on Sat, May 19, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Ms Bobin... the person who wrote the article was surprised....I was not.

    Please read and think one second before your fingers type as if they had a mind of their own.

    Not all teachers deserve every penny ...the good teachers are underpaid and the bad teachers are way over paid thanks to the union.
    There are many other occupations that require college education and work hard as well but the ecomony has reduced their incomes... teachers should not be treated better than others...

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 5:50 pm on Sat, May 19, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Considering that teachers in California must complete rigorous educational requirements - a BA consisting of requirements mandated by the State of California, General Education, requirements for the major, plus at least 12 units in their concentration such as Special Ed, English, or whatever, plus must apply and be accepted to the Teacher Credential program for a 5th year of postgraduate core education courses including the completion of 6 months as an unpaid student teacher, teachers for the most part deserve every penney they earn. Starting salaries in LUSD begin at 35K.

    Imagine graduating after a minimum of 5 years, no doubt carrying student loans, and your best bet is 35K a year plus benefits, and the prospect that you can be dismissed on a whim during the first three years on the job.

    Compare this with a prison guard - or as they prefer to be called, "correctional officer," making 70K-90K with a high school diploma.

    Then complain about "unions," Mr. Baumbach.

  • Sunny Samuels posted at 9:55 am on Sat, May 19, 2012.

    Sunny Samuels Posts: 55

    Leave Oak View Teachers alone! That's my kids' school. K-12, 420 students and an API score of 859. They deserve their pay. Teachers should get good pay, they lay the foundation for children and their education . I never have understood justifying lower teacher pay. Bad teachers need to be gone. Good teachers and schools with great scores should be paid what they are worth.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:14 am on Sat, May 19, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    While pay and benefits vary widely, there is one somewhat surprising trend: Despite the state’s economic doldrums, teacher pay is generally on the rise.

    Surprised? Why surprised? The state mandates over 50% of all taxes go to the education system. In addition, the teacher's unions are oblivious to economic conditions and demand increases when the economy clearly dictates decreases are in order...

    Surprised? Only at the people who are surprised.



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