How much has AZ upped teacher pay since 2015?
Gov. Doug Ducey said investment in teacher salaries has increased 9 percent since 2015. Is he right? AZ Fact Check takes a look.
THE MEDIA: Speech.
WHO SAID IT: Doug Ducey.
TITLE: Arizona governor.
THE COMMENT: “Since fiscal year 2015, school districts have increased their investment in teacher salaries by 9 percent.”
THE FORUM: Jan. 8 State of State Address.
WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT: Whether Arizona school districts have increased spending on teacher salaries by 9 percent since July 1, 2015.
ANALYSIS: Proposition 123 narrowly passed in May 2016 and will allocate $3.5 billion into public district and charter K-12 schools over 10 years.
Voters' passage of the proposition settled a lawsuit that challenged underfunding for Arizona schools. The money started flowing to schools in July 2016.
An analysis by the Arizona School Boards Association published in January shows how the allocation of Prop. 123 money factors into overall teacher salaries, comparing the total amount spent in 2015 to that of 2018 salaries.
This research was the basis for Gov. Doug Ducey’s statement, according to the Governor’s Office.
"It is clear: Principals, superintendents and school board members are directing these dollars where they should go, to our dedicated teachers," Ducey also said in the speech.
The association pulled numbers from the state Department of Education's "School District Employee Report," which shows average salaries for teachers and full-time-equivalent employees in each county.
The report combined the average salaries of each group for 2015 and 2018 to calculate the increase in salaries with the additional Prop. 123 money.
An analysis of the report by AZ Fact Check shows Prop. 123 money added more than $180 million into overall compensation since 2015 —from about $2.11 billion to about $2.29 billion.
The additional $180 million reflects a 9 percent increase in overall compensation from 2015 to 2018. That's the figure Ducey cites in his speech.
But this doesn't mean teacher salaries increased by 9 percent, which may be how some of the public interpreted Ducey's comment. The overall compensation figure includes salary and benefits.
Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations with school board association, said the research does not "say that teachers received a 9 percent raise, because they did not receive a 9 percent raise.”
The average salary for public school teachers rose from $44,905 in 2015, to $46,949 in 2018, according to the report. That's a 4.6 percent increase in teacher salaries.
The 4.6 percent increase “indicates that on average teacher salaries have gone up about $2,000 across the state since 2015,” Kotterman said.
The salaries of full-time equivalent employees in Arizona public schools, the other group of workers in the study, rose from $47,061 in 2015, to $48,852 in 2018. That is a 3.7 percent increase.
(A 1 percent increase in teacher salaries approved last year by the Legislature and Duceyis not reflected in the Department of Education's figures, according to the association's analysis.)
A majority of this increase occurred in the 2017 fiscal year, which started about six weeks after the May 2016 election.
While investment in teacher salaries has gone up due to Prop. 123, the money also goes to hiring additional teachers, among other things.
“It’s not to be discounted that part of Prop. 123 has allowed school districts to hire some staff," Kotterman said.“(Hiring) additional staff is never going to show as an increase in teacher salary."
Chuck Essigs, Arizona Association of School Business Officials' director of governmental relations, noted that districts are hiring more teachers but "they just need more resources to move the needle (on salaries).”
With the hiring of more teachers, the 9 percent increase in funding for compensation resulted in salary increases averaging well below that percentage. And despite Prop. 123's additions, teacher pay in Arizona is still significantly lower than the national average.
A May 2017 report by the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University ranked Arizona's secondary school teacher pay 49th nationally and elementary school teacher pay last, though that report is based on data from 2016, prior to the bulk increases in salary.
BOTTOM LINE: Total spending on compensation — salaries and benefits — increased 9 percent, according to the Arizona School Boards Association research and AZ Fact Check’s analysis of the Department of Education numbers.
While the state's average teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, it has increased with the addition of Prop. 123 money.
This increase in overall spending does not translate directly to salary increases, which is how some will interpret Ducey's statement. With the additional money, overall teacher salaries increased just 4.6 percent because a portion of that money was also spent to hire new teachers.
THE FINDING: Four stars: True
SOURCES: Phone interviews with Patrick Ptak, spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey; Chuck Essigs, the director of governmental relations with Arizona Association of School Business Officials; and Chris Kotterman, the director of governmental relations Arizona School Boards Association.The Arizona Department of Education's "Teachers by Grade Level/Gender," School Employment Report from 2015 and 2018.
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