There was a strong assertion made during the last Finance Committee meeting, labor costs have been controlled over the last 10 years, and as a result has become a smaller percentage of the budget. Below is a graphical representation of the average teacher salary, within the Octorara Area School District, since the 1999-00 school year. You will notice, after a dip in 07-08, the most rapid rate of increase has been over the last few years.
I also wanted to make a comparison to a neighboring school district. I chose Oxford because it has the starkest contrast.
This information is publicly available on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
Not only has Octorara paid a premium for teachers, compared to Oxford, that premium has grown. Since 1999-00, Oxford’s average salary has rose by only, roughly $9,000. Octorara’s average salary has risen by $16,000 per year.
Even more interestingly, the gap between Octorara and Oxford’s average wages remained fairly steady until until 2007-08. What was an average difference of roughly $5,000 for years, jumped to an almost $11,000 difference in just 4 years. This difference represents around $2.1 Million (or about 3.2 mills).
Does this, at all, look like labor costs were controlled?
It is another example of how, during the worst economic crisis in recent history, the school district chose to increase spending. Choices related to labor and debt are why taxes keep going up. These poor decisions are why they now want to “control costs” by cutting programs.