Utah teachers received their largest raise this year since the 1982-83 school year - an average 10.6 percent when annual increments were factored in - the Utah Foundation reported.
In its annual report on teacher salaries, the foundation said salaries increased by 4.3 percent to 12.6 percent among the 40 school districts, giving teachers an average additional increase of $1,353 or 6.7 percent.From normal increments related to experience, teachers who have not topped out on the salary schedule received, on average, an additional $798, for an average overall increase of $2,151.
Most districts exceeded the $1,000-per-teacher minimum set by the 1990 Legislature, the foundation said. In several districts, however, the increase, without the experience increment, was less than $1,000 at some steps on the salary scale.
The average beginning teacher with a bachelor's degree earned $17,250, while the average maximum for a teacher with a master's degree is $29,941. The averages are based on 184 working days.
The 1990 Legislature also appropriated $34.3 million for a career ladder program that supplements the average salary by approximately $1,900 per year. Funding for the career ladder program has not increased in several years, and legislators have indicated it will be a major consideration in education financing for the upcoming session.
The average Utah teacher salary continues to lag behind those in most other states. After adjustment for career ladder supplements, the Utah average was 15.5 percent below the national average.
However, the foundation notes, several factors relate to the Utah figures.
-More new teachers are hired each year because the number of schoolchildren is rising, so more of Utah's teachers are in the low end of the salary range.
-An early option retirement three years ago encouraged many older teachers to retire, again diluting the number of experienced teachers at the top end of the scales.
-Utah pays most, if not all, of a teacher's retirement costs, adding 5-6 percent to his take-home pay.
-The average salary of all workers in Utah is approximately 14 percent below the average worker nationally.
-Living costs in the state are 8-12 percent lower than the national costs.