Average Ky. teacher pay drops for seventh year in a row

WATCH | Average Ky. teacher pay drops for seventh year in a row
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:45 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new analysis from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows that the average teacher pay has fallen for the seventh straight year.

When adjusting for inflation, it dropped off more than 5% in the past year alone.

Fayette County teacher Jeni Ward is a veteran of the education industry. She has taught for nearly two decades, has her doctorate, and yet she faces a harsh reality this holiday season.

“I’m a single mom. Looking at all my bills, it’s very likely that I’ll pick up a second job after Christmas,” Ward said.

Fayette County Schools was among the districts in Kentucky which got a raise approved this year.

“But with inflation, the amount of what we can actually spend our dollars on becomes less and less every year,” Ward said.

The latest inflation-adjusted analysis shows that teachers took a $3,152 pay cut this year on average. Ward says that leads directly into struggles with staff recruitment and retention. Fayette County has 102 openings posted on their website.

Toni Konz Tatman with the Kentucky Department of Education says the Commonwealth’s turnover rate is outpacing the national average, and only 83% of job postings are being filled. Tatman also says that It affects more than just teachers themselves.

“Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, nurses; I think that staff in our schools have been stretched to the point of breaking,” Tatman said.

Tatman says they need to fix the problem by easing both the financial and mental burdens these valued workers have to bear.

“Business leaders, our general assembly. We should all be working together as partners not just to solve this salary issue, but also the overall job satisfaction feeling as well,” Tatman said.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy also found that there are fewer teachers now than in 2008. Despite a 14% rise in school-aged children, making the workload heavier for those who are still teaching.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average public school teacher in Kentucky earned a salary of $54,000. Of our neighboring states, only teachers in Illinois and Ohio earned more, with $69,000 and $61,000, respectively. West Virginia public school teachers had the lowest average salary, just over $50,000.