By NICK GRABBE
Saturday, May 15, 2010
AMHERST - The question of whether Amherst pays its teachers more than Northampton has finally been answered. Sort of.
The average Amherst salary of about $60,000 is higher than in Northampton, but some have argued that the salary scales are similar, and the reason for the disparity is that Amherst teachers have more experience. Joe Cullen of the Amherst Budget Advisory Committee compared all the salaries for the five educational levels and 20 "steps" or experience levels and calculated the difference between Amherst and Northampton for each category.
He found that Northampton teachers with a B.A. at step 1 make $526 more than in Amherst and $894 more if they have an M.A. But at all other steps, teachers with bachelor's degrees make more in Amherst, such as $4,749 more at step 13.
Most teachers with more education than bachelor's degrees make more money in Northampton than in Amherst only in steps 8 through 11; at step 11 with a doctorate, Northampton teachers make $5,750 more. But Amherst pays more to the experienced teachers at steps 13 and up than Northampton, as much as $7,127 more.
School Committee member Steve Rivkin said it isn't clear whether the salary disparity is good or bad, and the numbers don't look at working conditions, such the amount of time spent in the classroom.
Note from Catherine: These analyses, which were presented at the SC meeting on Tuesday night, reveal that if Amherst paid teachers accordig to the same salary/step rate as Northampton, we would have saved over $1,000,000. This is exactly the type of analysis I believe we should be doing regularly -- meaning comparing all aspects of education in Amherst to that in other peer communities -- and this is an example of the great work that came out of the Citizens Budgetary Advisory Committee, which I really hope will continue.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.