By Jennifer Mrozowski
Enquirer staff writer
Ohio ranks in the top third in the nation for average teacher pay, while Kentucky remains in the bottom third, according to the annual salary survey by the American Federation of Teachers to be released today.
Still, both states face formidable challenges in recruiting new teachers because starting pay is lower than in adjoining states, union officials said.
Top five average teacher salaries in 2002-03, and increase from previous year:
1. California - $55,693 (2.5 percent)
2. Michigan - $54,020 (3 percent)
3. Connecticut - $53,962 (3 percent)
4. New Jersey - $53,872 (7.5 percent)
5. District of Columbia - $53,194 (2.7 percent)
15. Ohio - $45,515 (2.8 percent)
17. Indiana - $44,966 (0.8 percent)
37. Kentucky - $38,486 (2.7 percent)
Source: American Federation of Teachers
The survey also revealed that while average pay went up in both states, by 2.7 percent in Kentucky and 2.8 percent in Ohio, teachers' costs of health benefits have soared 13 percent nationally.
Average teacher salaries for 2002-03, the most recent year available, were $45,515 in Ohio and $38,486 in Kentucky. Both were below the national average, $45,771.
Randy Wilson, who teaches at Boone County High School, said he's not surprised by the disparity between average teacher salaries in Ohio and Kentucky.
"I know a couple teachers in Boone County who moved to Ohio in the last couple of years. One is making about $15,000 more and the other is making about $20,000. That's almost an additional salary."
Ed Massey, chairman of the Boone County Board of Education, said the disparities make it difficult for Kentucky districts to retain teachers.
"People can easily drive across the river and, in a 30-minute time frame, be at (an Ohio) classroom and make that much more money," Massey said. "I would like Kentucky to be more competitive."
The average teacher salary in Boone County Schools is $42,000, he said. Just across the river in Cincinnati Public Schools, the average teacher salary is $56,100. In Princeton Schools, it is $54,216 and at Mason Schools in Warren County, it's $45,283.
But adjoining states like Michigan and Indiana top Ohio and Kentucky with higher beginning teacher salaries, said Sue Taylor, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.
The average starting salary in Ohio is $28,866; in Kentucky, it is $28,886, while Indiana's is $29,144 and Michigan's is $33,596.
"We're going to be less attractive in competing with surrounding states for beginning teachers," Taylor said. "I'm very concerned about being able to replace our retired teachers with new teachers given that Ohio is not very competitive with beginning teacher salaries."
Both Kentucky and Ohio teachers say health-care costs have hurt. Wilson, of Boone County, said those costs increased each of the last eight years he's been teaching.
Cincinnati Public Schools Treasurer Michael Geoghegan said district health-care costs have risen more than 20 percent over the last three years and that has been passed on, in part, to teachers.
"Frankly, the increased health-care costs in many teachers' circumstances take a large bite out of salary increases," Taylor said.
William Croyle contributed to this report.
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