Octorara Passes West Chester for Teachers Salaries

Cartoon-Like-Third-Graders-LFS-990Labor cost is a central issue the school district does not want us talking about. They are dismissive of data showing Octorara pays much higher than average salaries. However, labor cost is not an issue that will go away easily. The Pennyslvania Department of Education has released their 2012-2013 Professional Personnel Summary Public Schools Final report. Not only have average salaries increased, Octorara has now past West Chester Area School District. As we know, West Chester is much larger and wealthier district, with the highest mill value in Chester County.

I have included in the list two adjacent Lancaster County school districts.

2012-13 Average Teacher Salary
Tredyffrin-Easttown SD 84,257.11
Great Valley SD 78,465.75
Unionville-Chadds Ford SD 75,510.74
Chester County IU 24 69,347.67
Phoenixville Area SD 69,218.09
Chester County Technical College High School 69,121.85
Octorara Area SD 67,000.73
West Chester Area SD 66,924.30
Avon Grove SD 65,283.58
Kennett Consolidated SD 64,619.23
Downingtown Area SD 64,084.31
Coatesville Area SD 61,802.51
Pequea Valley SD 60,283.82
Owen J Roberts SD 59,879.09
Solanco SD 58,352.44
Oxford Area SD 56,192.96
21st Century Cyber CS 54,724.15
Pennsylvania Leadership Ch 49,702.67
Chester Co Family Academy CS 47,508.25
Achievement House CS 47,408.72
Renaissance Academy CS 46,865.84
Avon Grove CS 45,762.75
Collegium CS 44,850.39
Graystone Academy CS 39,850.00
Agora Cyber CS 38,251.69

Previously, in 2011-12, 7 school districts in Chester County had higher salaries. Currently, there are now only 6. Octorara is the poorest of all county school districts, but pays wages in competition with the weightiest.

Our neighboring school districts include Unionville-Chadds Ford, Avon Grove SD, Coatesville Area, Pequea Valley, Solanco SD, and Oxford Area SD. Of each of these, Octorara’s labor cost is second only to Unionville-Chadds Ford SD, and that area probably contains more personal wealth than any other part of Chester County.

There was once an $8,000/year gap with West Chester. Today, our labor cost has surpassed that of the district with the highest mill value. Oxford School District is the second lowest, and has kept salaries in line with their community. Octorara is the poorest district, and is moving up the ladder in average salary costs. There is something wrong with this picture.

The average teacher salary of neighboring school districts is only $62,904, or $4,096 less than Octorara. Keep it mind, that average includes Unionville-Chadds Ford which, because of their wealth, pay an average salary of 75,510. If we were to exclude Unionville-Chadds Ford from our calculations, because they are not representative of the area, the average teacher salary would only be 60,383.

Controlling Octorara’s labor costs will need to be one of the major issues to get our taxes under control. The last contract with the teacher’s union was celebrated by the district as a taxpayer victory, but they had already given away the farm.

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