Labor 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|
|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|
|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|
|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.