To the Editor:
During a presentation this Fall, and again during the school deliberative session in February, Goffstown's school board made the claim that our teachers are paid an average salary of $45,680, well below the state average of $51,443. This comparison was used to justify increases in the school budget. There are two problems with this analysis. First, the $45,680 figure does not match the average salary in the corresponding salary spreadsheet, which looks to be $48,280. I am in the process of investigating this apparent discrepancy with school board and district officials.
Second, these local and state averages are from the 2009-2010 school year. The average teacher salary reported by our district for the current school year (2010-2011) is $51,360, a whopping 12.4% increase in one year. We do not currently have the statewide average for that year, as the NH Department of Education has not updated its site yet. But even if the DOE state average increases by about $1,500 this year, a generous assumption given recent trends, Goffstown teacher salaries would still be within 3% of that average, nowhere near the 11% shortfall in the school board's presentation.
Where can we look in the meantime to get an idea of how well our teachers are paid? The Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau has compiled statewide salary statistics as of June 2010, which I've distilled in the table below. The averages, found on page six of this file, include teachers in both public and private schools. The statewide average reported by the DOE, which includes public school teachers only, will also be useful information when it becomes available, but the comparison below shows that Goffstown's teachers are paid competitive salaries among all NH teachers.
The accuracy of our salary comparisons is important, both because we ought to know how much we pay our teachers, and because it is one of many significant considerations when making budget determinations.