Study: Utah teachers are ‘significantly’ underpaid

The average teacher salary in Utah’s public schools is about $47,600, roughly $13,000 less than the national average of about $60,500, according to a report compiled by the Utah Foundation that was released Wednesday, April 10.

The report, “Apples to Apples? How Teacher Pay in Utah Stacks Up to the Competition,” noted Utah teachers are also the lowest paid in the eight-state Mountain West region, but the report’s authors said there is more to look at aside from salaries.

“When examining teacher pay, it’s important to take into account differences in experience, education and cost of living, as well as what the total compensation picture looks like,” said Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard with this follow-up caveat: “But at the end of the day, pay is critical to attracting and retaining strong teachers.”

Here’s a snapshot of the report’s key findings:

While Utah teacher pay is lowest in the Intermountain region by a “significant” margin, educators fall into the “middle of the pack” when experience and education levels are considered.

Teacher pay varies widely from Utah school district to district, by as much as 40 percent.

Utah teachers earn less than 75 percent of what people with bachelor degrees in the private sector earn.

Nearly one out of every five education dollars is spent on teacher benefits, though a recent survey shows that most prospects for college teaching programs appear to be more interested in pay than benefits.

Districts that have made teacher pay a priority have successfully lobbied for a property tax increase or other revenue stream.