Friday, February 22, 2008

Frederick County Teachers Demand More Pay--Ignoring Reality

On Wednesday, the Frederick County School Board heard testimony about the FY 2009 budget. Among those testifying were Frederick County Teachers Association President Gary Brennan and Vice President Carol Dagan, both arguing for "competitive salaries" for county teachers.

Now don't get me wrong, Brennan and Dagan have every right, even the duty, to plead their case for more money for teachers. But let's take a look at some facts. The Frederick News Post conveniently links to a table of Frederick County Public School Salaries. With the FCTA arguing that teacher salaries are not "competitive" you have to wonder, what is FCPS doing paying our teachers poverty wages? Well, lets take a look at the teacher' salaries at three county schools, Ballenger Creek Elementary, Urbana High School and West Frederick Middle School.

Ballenger Creek Elementary has 42 teachers, including music, art, special ed, intervention and PE Teachers. The average pay for these 42 teachers is $59,489.74. The median salary is $61,061.50, which means that 21 teachers make more than that amount and 21 less that $61,000. The top salary is $82,555, three teachers make that salary. The smallest salary is $31,925, two teachers earn that much. The total teacher payroll (salaries only) is $2.49 million out of a total school payroll of $3.17 million, or 78.5% of payroll on teachers. The average length of service for the teachers at this school is 11.3 years. The median is 9.5 years. There were four new hires in 2007 and 9 teachers (21%) with three or fewer years of experience.

West Frederick Middle School has 68 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $60,989.23 and the median salary is $60,586.50. So there are not a lot of highly paid teachers or lesser paid teaches skewing the salary range, the salaries are pretty well distributed. The top salary is $90,971, with three teachers making that salary, and the lowest salary is $21,550 by a targeted intervention teacher who is apparently working part-time given a six year length of service with FCPS. The total teacher payroll for West Frederick (salaries only) is $4.14 million out of a total payroll budget of $5.42 million. The teachers at West Frederick have an average length of service of 11 years and a median service of 10 years. Only one teacher is a new hire in 2007 and 11 teachers (16%) have three or fewer years of experience.

Urbana High School has 96 teachers. The average pay for these teachers is $57,247 and the median pay is $53,886. The top salary is $90,971 and the lowest salary is $30,687. The average and median salaries are a bit lower at this high school compared to the elementary and middle school sampls because the average and median length of service in FCPS is significantly lower. The average length of service is 8.7 years and the median is 8 years. There are 20 teachers (20.8%) with three or fewer years of experience. The total teacher payroll is just shy of $5.5 million out of a total school payroll of $7.1 million.

Take note that these are cash compensation salaries and do not account for the substantial benefits package that teachers receive, including generous pension and health care benefits.

So, teachers at the three schools noted above had a average individual income of between $57,250 and $60,500. The median income, again for these individuals, was between $53,886 and $61,061. Economic data for Frederick County indicates that the median household income in November 2007 was is $60,507 and the median family income is $67,879. Using the lowest median teacher income for the three schools, teachers are making 89.2% of the median household income and 79.3% of the median family income--all by themselves with a generous benefit package. In Frederick County, males had a median income of $42,378 versus $30,564 for females. In our teacher pool for these three schools, female teachers (146) are making a median income of $55,558 on a median experience level of eight years. Male teachers (60) make a median salary of $59,023 on a median experience level of nine years. Thus female teachers in Frederick County are making a 81.7% larger income than the general female population in Frederick County. Male teachers are make 39.2% more money than the general population of males in Frederick County. In all of Frederick County there are 413 teachers employed by the FCPS making better than $80,000 a year.

This analysis is done on just three schools in Frederick County. A larger county wide assessment is worth a look to examine all the teachers, full or part time, in the county, but I suspect the numbers would not be all that different.

For all the bluster about teachers not being paid a competitive salary looks to be pure bunk, particularly when compared to the incomes of the rest of the county. So if teachers are being well compensatd with 413 invididually making some 30% more than the median household income, why then is the School Board even considering more than a cost of living increase in salaries?

The union can ask for more money, but it seems to me that teacher salaries in Frederick County are not only more than sufficient for our area, they are more than competitive with the every other industry in the county.


gull92 said...


Great analysis, and you're missing a key component. The teachers only are in the classroom for 180 days vs 260 days (before vacation) for the average "non teaching" worker.

If we assume that the average non teacher gets 5 weeks off including paid holidays, they would work 235 days. So teachers, on average, work 55 fewer days (11 weeks), yet demand more money. And their benefit package can't be touched by anyone in the private sector.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Daniel said...

Ever been a teacher, gull92?

Ever graded papers in time for returning them the next day?

Ever prepared tests, presentations?

Most teachers work far longer hours of the day than you or I.

streiff said...

this is just nonsense.

I don't know what kind of job you have, but any professional job requires working extra hours. And we do it without a summer vacation.

gull92 said...


yes, i have. I've tought as an adjunct at the university level for a mere $2k per class. A class that required 20 hours per week of class time and out of class work, so don't bitch to me. I did this for 4 different semesters, so clearly I wasn't doing it for the cash - I was doing it because I enjoyed the time in the classroom with the kids.

This was on top of my "day job", where I was working 65-75 hours per week in a professional position.

Welcome to the "real world", Daniel.

Anonymous said...

Let's look at what it takes for a teacher to be a teacher. College at $20,000 a year, Md. teaching cert, and an advanced teacher cert or a masters degree. Most teachers go to college in the summer, so forget the 180 days working, When you come home do you fix your dinner and watch TV or get a video, do that while grading papers for 120 students or reading 30 essays and gradeing them. Bottom line is teachers put in more than the 180 day and 7 hour thing, so that argument is just bunk. Getting a ton of vacation time? Well teachers do get snow days that they make up, professional days that they work, amd federal holidays, that were agreed to by the goverment, in fact you the people decided that they should be holidays. My sister gets 90 plus days of vacation and works for the utility, my brother in law drives a company truck and gets meals, comp time and a ton of overtime, makes over $100,000.00 a year. Plumber gets $140.00 per hour, don't ever complain about the salery of a teacher unless you are willing to dowhat they did to get a job!

gull92 said...


I have a BS, Masters, arrive at work at 6am, and get home at 7pm. If I'm lucky, I get about 90 minutes with my kids before they go to bed, so no, I don't pop in a video or watch TV.

I get 3 weeks paid vacation, and my company recognizes 8 paid holidays.

I don't get summers off to pursue additional education. I earned my Masters by going to class from 7pm-10pm 4 nights a week after work for 2 and a half years. I don't get snow days. If it snows, I go to work. My company doesn't close for snow.

I worked my way through school, paid off my debts on my own.

Do I make more than a teacher? Yep, in salary only. My benefits wouldn't touch those of a teacher.

Am I looking for your pity? Nope.

The difference is that I work in the private sector, where I can be replaced tomorrow if I don't perform. I have no collectively bargained protections. I'm confident enough in my abilities to stand on my own two feet without union protection.

Anonymous said...

you are crying to the wrong one my friend. See I was a traveling pipefitter (nuclear) making alot of money, away from my home and kids more than I should have been. So I quit my trade go to college, cut grass and trim bushes to get a degree teaching. I was in my late 30's making half as much with a lot of time for my kids. If you aren;t happy why take that job? I loved pipe fitting but a family made me change things for a job I love. Sorry friend sucks to be you

warpmine said...

Anonymous: What plumber do you know, that works for a company receives $140/hr?
They are luck to make $30 after years of employment after their education or work experience and testing.

Teachers make plenty whe you include the benefits of collective bargaining and they can rarely be fired or demoted.

As far as all the education that is require to become ateacher well it don't hold water when you consider that the unions are responsible for that line of BS. I know plenty of folks with great experience who wanted to give back as a teacher but aren't qualified because the unions boxed them out.

Mother was a teacher for 26years and made 50k plus benefits. She did so because she loved it and not for the money.

You can take your unions and shove them where the sun don't shine.

gull92 said...

Anon 1000pm,

I am happy. I'm a capitalist by nature. I bust my ass for my company. My work is fulfilling and provides my family with the opportunity to be a "one income" household.

What I'm sick of is teachers bitching about their salaries. Life is a sum of the choices that you make. Teachers know the economics of teaching going in. They shouldn't be shocked when they get their first paycheck.

I'm crack up when I read the whining. My friends that teach say to me "I don't know how you do it. I could never work year round!". I NEED my summers off!!! Real "go getters!".

Another thing I'm sick of is spending my nights and weekends undoing the liberal crap that gets ingrained into my kids' heads at school. (And we send our kids to a private school! I feel truly bad for kids in government schools!). Parents don't send their kids to school for education on morality. This is supposed to come from the home. I shouldn't have to feel like I'm swimming against the tide here.

Anonymous said...

Gull, If i were your employer I would fire you for spending so much time blogging and not working!!! You are on a large number of sites on the daily, when do you work? No wonder you hate teachers they made you work! Now let me get this straight you have a masters degree, send your kids to private school, bet you drive a big SUV, and work 60 plus hours a week,not to mention you blog all day. The reason you dislike teachers making more is that you are afraid they will live as well as you, they have 30 more college credits than you, and have a job they love unlike you, maybe you should have been a teacher. Get a life gull, work more blog less and have more time for your family because you got your work done and did not blog! By the way, I am retired, a hard core republican living on a fixed income, who worked 40 plus all my life, I got a job because a teacher taught me how to learn and work!

warpmine said...

Almost every male teacher I had growing up had a summer job probably because they couldn't stand being unproductive during the summer vacation.

The best teachers do it because they want to do it and those that are in it for that large government paycheck make the worse teachers.

Anonymous said...

.I am from out of town and am looking at moving to the area as a teacher. I have 5 years experience and a certification for academically gifted children. After reading your blogs I am disgusted to read that teacher’s salary is not a concern for the public of your county. How do you expect to recruit experienced teachers who have a passion for tour children if in the very next county a starting teacher makes 10 to 12 k more to start??? The housing is expensive in your county and impossible for a teacher to afford especially if they are single. A teacher today is not the same teacher that we all grew up with. Every day is now a battle to balance new required testing and learning objectives. When I went to grade school a disruptive child would be sent to the principles’ office and class would go on...not today you have to teach around them. Teachers today do not last long. Look at the national average of teachers changing professions. All of you that complain teachers make too much can watch as they go elsewhere and your county continues to hire individual who haven't even gone to college for teaching. What's next, hiring people with just an associate’s degree??? While you all fight it out in your disgust, I will shift my search to the next county where they seem to want to invest in their children's future

Anonymous said...

You know reading all of this is crazy - I have worked private and now a teacher. There are benefits in both. Love the kids - extra work at home Get sick just call out no sub plans - need to go to the bathroom - go ahead - visit the gym at luch sure - Oh yeah let me call and make a dr. apt when the office is avaliable - Lets have a meeting and sit at lunch for 2 hours with drinks -
However we signed up for this becoming a teacher we know when we spent our 40,000 then our 30,000 for extra schooling - in my case 2 masters and only make the average yes I do have my summers off - UN PAID - I get another job becaue my kids are so high maintence :)

So lets call it like it is - society has deemed us babysitters - we have to educate them get them ready to be productive members of society and help them emothionally becauae thier divorsed and working parents all day long that do leave at 6 - and get home at 7 have not given them the time of day - As you well know GULL92!

so I say pay me like you do a babysitter !!

I have 27 4th graders so I figure 5.00 hour sounds reasonable - Not mimimum wage :)5.00 x 7 (the only hours I seem to work) = that is 35.oo a day = I am a reasonalble person lets just say 25.00 a day for each child
25.00x 27 = 675.00 a day so lets see 675.00 per child at 180 days = 121,500 lts take out 30,000 for health - that leaves 91,500 - I make 50,000 Maybe I should be a babby sitter

Now reimburse me the average 2,000 I spend on the studnets for rewards and other necesseties in the classroom. that is 93,500 hey maybe we need to look into this unless I did the math wrong?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah I am the teacher who left the last message - just to let you know I do agree with GULL92 in a couple of areas

I too am upset with all of the LIBRAL stuff that goes on in our eduactional field. We are making a society of excuse givers. What happend to having to eran your trophies and your rewards. Lets get back to the days of no excuses -

And yes I was a welfare recipient when I was growing up - I had hard time - however I used the programs when I needed them - worked hard to get off of them - Not use it as a life style! Just incase I get criticised for my comments above! I put my words where my experinces have been.

Also I appreciate you instilling hard work in your family I too worked 2 jobs to make it in life pay for my college so I wouldn't be in debt the rest of my life. So you are not the only one on the planet that does this. I personally feel school should be year round so my family vacations do not have to be taken in the summer like everyone elses. I also know that most teachers have a 2nd job - the ones you are talking about must have a great support at home a husband that also bust his A-- so that she/he dosen't have to work!

I personally would like to be like the other families in my middle class suburban cummunity - stay at home moms - you know the ones that have nothing to do all day except find reasons wrong with something. not that all do! but that is another topic!

Matt Johnston said...

Ah, this kind of exchange was predictable, teachers complaining that they are paid enough (depite the hard economic data) and those in the private sector saying "shut up and deal with it" or words to that effect.

The fact is that the hard data suggest that teachers in Frederick County are competitively compensated. Do some not make as much money? Sure, but there is a spread in any profession.

The teacher candidate is right, it is expensive to live in Frederick County. Can't deny it, won't even try. But those costs cannot be overcome by simply paying teachers more. Where do the funds from teacher salaries come--tax revenue, a combination of property, income and sales taxes. To keep your salaries high, property values have to be high, income taxes have to be high, sales taxes have to be high. If you want more money for teachers, what do you have to do--add more taxes.

The other solution is so-called "smart growth" that is laws and regulations that keep property values artificially high. So if a teacher can't afford a house in Frederick County, maybe the reason is that the County works hard to keep housing prices higher.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

This probably sounds rude, but frankly, I think some of you could use a good English teacher to help you with spelling, grammar, and punctuation -- including a few who posted as teachers!
In addition, unless you are a teacher, you cannot really understand the issues that are being faced each and every day in the classroom.I've been teaching for 31 years. I love it; however, it's hard work, requires a lot of education during night classes, summer workshops,and inservice days.In Maryland, teachers are required to obtain an Advanced Professional Certificate and Master's degree or Master's equivalency within a certain period of time. Each and every day teachers must learn how to deal with individual children with different learning styles, personality traits, and emotional issues. You're darned right I and my colleagues deserve a well-earned high salary! I can't think of a more deserving profession: all other professions have been taught their "stuff" by some form of a teacher.
Sure, I knew I would never be a millionaire by becoming a teacher, but I did expect to achieve a comfortable life style, with no retirement worries. The real reason I chose teaching was because I thought I could make a difference in children's lives and get them excited about learning.
The most interesting thing that I have noticed about non-teachers is that they think that just because they have been to school ( as a student) they assume that they could teach school.
Interesting concept. I guess that means that just because one has been to the doctor, one could diagnose ailments and treat patients.

Anonymous said...

A few other points I must add...
5% of Frederick County teacher salary goes to our retirement- so that great retirement package is not "free" to us.

About $75 a month is taken from our pay to go to the Teachers association. ( again , not free to us)
Regardless of how long we have been teaching, we must take 6 graduate credits every 5 years, to stay current in our field.

I have gone countless days without a lunch, and spent many evenings and Saturdays in the school to do bulletin boards, paper work or other necessary tasks.

Anonymous said...

My husband found this site and thought I would be interested in leaving a comment. Let me start that 180 days refers to the amount of time students are in school not teachers. Just because you have to find daycare for your child when school is not in session, doesn't mean the teachers are not working.

Seriously though, I too am a teacher in Frederick County and laugh about the absurd thought of the public feeling we have the summer off. First, we have trainings, classes, etc that we must attend at our own cost. Secondly, most teachers, if not all, are planning creative, innovative ideas for YOUR CHILDREN to help them learn and to be challenged when they return in the fall. We do this on our "vacation". On top of our "vacation time" being consumed by our need to make that first day and the rest of the 179 days (that studnets are in school) exciting for our children, we spend thousands of dollars on our classrooms per year. We receive no overtime, no compensation in days for working on Saturdays or get to leave early. This my friend is just an example of working with children in general education. Let me discuss working with and in special education (of course this is also happens in general education classrooms as well). Double the amount of money that we spend out of our own pocket due to students not having proper clothing for the weather, food to eat, supplies for school etc. And I am talking about studnets that have actively involved parents that just don't have enough. I realize that there are organizations out there to help and we are constantly utilizing them but this type of incident happens everyday and times that by the number of students in the classroom. Although I am not one to complain about what I make Gull92, I am infomred that our county is not competitive with salaries of a county comparable to Frederick. Let's compare apples to apples my friend. Frederick County is not paying their teachers what they are worth. We are taking care of the most precious cargo of all - young minds and deserve the recognition and pay to continue to do so.