How well does your Northern San Joaquin Valley school district pay teachers, superintendent?

naustin@modbee.comJanuary 14, 2014 

Beyer High School advisory instructor Mrs. Smith welcomes back classmates on the first day of school Thursday morning (08-08-13).

ELIAS FUNEZ — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

Rosier days for education budgets could mean higher salaries ahead for teachers and administrators. With pay contracts coming forward over the next few months, see how your school district’s pay stacks up next to others.

Last year’s salaries, compiled in newly released numbers from the state, offer a snapshot of the last year of grim Great Recession cuts for most California districts. The California Department of Education compiled the data from financial reports required of school districts. The state average for teacher salaries in 2012-13 was $69,435, up 1 percent from the year before. The average pay for superintendents stood at $167,000, not counting part-time superintendents.

Average pay for teachers in this area for 2012-13 ranged from $78,371 across Modesto City Schools’ 34 campuses to $37,896 for six instructors in Plainsburg Elementary, a one-school district with 133 students in Merced County.

Having more senior teachers generally skews a district’s average toward the high end. Teacher pay in districts with high schools tends to be higher because secondary teachers generally make more than early-grade teachers.

Merced City Elementary teachers, however, beat the odds, averaging $75,592 – third highest among the six counties reviewed in this area. Merced Union High School teachers, by contrast, made an average of $66,848.

The figures from last year included some additions made possible by the November 2012 passage of Proposition 30, the education funding initiative. Teachers were among the strongest campaigners for the tax hike passed by California voters 55 percent to 45 percent.

With state budget cuts in the rearview mirror, some districts restored school days cut from the spring semester or stipends for teachers doing extra duties. Automatic seniority and education raises generally add 1 percent to 2 percent to a district’s teacher payroll.

When this year’s averages get tallied, expect to see pay rise significantly next year as better funding eliminates furlough days and ends salary concessions from the recession in many districts.

Modesto teachers’ 2012-13 pay includes 1.5 percent from three school days put back in the calendar, plus the automatic raises, for a total of 2.5 percent higher pay than the year before.

For 2013-14, paychecks have returned to pre-recession highs in Modesto City, with the end of all furlough days and a 3 percent pay hike. When the averages come forward next year, there will be a significant jump. Modesto City, however, pays only $150 a month toward health care, while districts typically provide those benefits. Compared as a total compensation package, Modesto would not be the highest.

The same holds true for Modesto City Superintendent Pam Able’s $226,655 annual pay. She, too, gets nominal health care help.

The district serves a little more than 30,000 students. Stockton Unified, with 38,400 students, paid its leader $225,000.

Two Tuolumne County salaries also fell among the 10 highest for superintendents who split their time between very small districts.

Twain Harte-Long Barn Union Elementary and Summerville Union High District, serving a combined 1,370 students, shared a superintendent, paying him $207,288. That superintendent has retired, and Twain Harte this year has been splitting a superintendent with Soulsbyville Elementary, said a district spokeswoman. The second superintendent, John Pendley, runs the one-school Columbia Union and Belleview elementary districts, with a combined 712 students. The state list put his pay at $175,230.

See the full list at For more details by district, visit Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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