What is the projected average Westlake teacher salary now that so many teachers have retired?
We project the average to be lower, but we will publish once the actual numbers become available.
Relative to salary comparisons, why is the district using average rather than median income?
Do you know yet how many teachers will be retiring at the end of this year? I noticed in the letter that was mailed to us that at least 30 teachers make over 90 thousand dollars. Having retired from education, I feel that means an older staff. I was hoping we might be able to give some young people jobs and save the district money. Thanks
At this time nine teachers are retiring.
We work to be efficient, but not at the expense of providing what is right for our students. We want bright and creative minds in our classrooms and we have a number of excellent, experienced teachers. The letter you refer to in your question did not come from the school district, if it indicates our current teacher salary goes beyond ninety thousand it is inaccurate. Westlake's salary scale ranges from $39,836 to $89,631. Westlake’s top of the scale is for only those teachers with 20 years’ experience and a master’s degree plus 30 hours of graduate credit, it is lower than every Cuyahoga County district we border. The distribution of staff is found on the link we provided in another response:
Is it true that Westlake teachers are paid 10% to 20% more than all surrounding districts? If so, then salaries can be reduced by 10% (to the same level as the next closest neighbor) and Westlake would need zero cuts, isn’t that correct?
How does the new contract affect teacher salaries?
Teachers’ base pay scale was reduced by 2.5% in January 2013, rolling it back to the 2011 base pay scale. Westlake teachers will remain on the same pay schedule in 2014 and 2015. This demonstrates that the school district made appropriate adjustments and that teachers understand the types of changes others have experienced. Last year about 60% of teachers took that 2.5% decrease in base pay and received no step increases. Additionally, their take home pay was 1% lower than in 2011 because of increased retirement contributions, making it an overall 3.5% decrease in take home pay. With this new contract, teachers will actually see an additional 1% decrease in their take home pay due to another increase in retirement contributions on their part. This is appropriate because of our current resource situation.
How does an average Westlake teacher’s salary compare to the average income of a Westlake resident?
The Ohio Department of Education lists the latest average income in Westlake – using tax year 2010, four years ago– at $95,912. This year’s average teacher salary is $14,000 lower. In fact, in 2014-2015 the highest paid teachers in Westlake – those with 20 years’ or more experience in the classroom, plus a master’s degree, and an additional 30 hours of graduate credit – will earn 7% less than the average income of a Westlake taxpayer in 2010. The 2010 average income of a Westlake resident is 60% higher than our current teachers’ at the lowest end of the scale.
What is the actual % of health care premium costs teachers are currently paying?
The last contract increased the contribution teachers’ pay toward insurance from 10% to 15%, this is a fifty percent increase for teachers and the adjustment took place at the same time the salary schedule was decreased by 2.5% and they had to contribute an additional 1% to their retirement.
Are Westlake teachers required to pay union dues even if they don’t join the union? If so, why?
The Westlake Teachers Association (WTA) has a legal obligation to fully represent all assigned bargaining unit employees, members and non-members alike. Non-members pay a fair share fee in the amount of no more than regular union dues. This fee covers the cost of bargaining, implementing, and enforcing the contract. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4117.09 allows for fair share fee if negotiated in the local association bargaining contract. WTA has bargained such a contract.
What is the rationale of charging pay to participate fees for middle school classes that meet during the school day, such as band and choir?
In our initial proposal to the Board, MS Band and Choir are listed as Tier II – B Activities with a recommended participation fee of $15.00. The cost is to offset the supplemental contracts that teachers hold for numerous performances and/or competitions. These co-curricular proposed participation fees will be evaluated this spring for recommendations in the fall and are subject to change.
I keep hearing that over 80% of WCS District's costs are salaries. What is typical for a service industry such as public education?
Last year, salaries accounted for 62.52% of our operating expenditures and benefits accounted for 22.96% for a total of 85.48%. The Ohio Department of Education reported that for similar districts, salaries accounted for 61.54% % of our operating expenditures for and benefits accounted for 23.25% for a total of 84.79%.
What other teacher unions in NE Ohio have agreed to pay cuts (not just freezes) within the past 5 years?
We do not have record of all NE Ohio contracts over the past 5 years. Not all teachers took a pay cut in Westlake, some actually received step raises. However, the entire salary schedule was adjusted by -2.5%. Westlake was the only district of the 41 Ohio districts reporting to the Ohio School Boards Association that reduced the overall salary schedule.
Did the 3 additional staff development days in the most recent contract ( days in addition to the 185 work days) reduce the number of teaching/classroom days?
The 3 extra days did NOT result in less student days; they were additional staff work days. The added work days for staff development took place on August 28, 2013, November 4, 2013, and February 17, 2014. None of those took away from the number of student classroom days.
In addition to the three extra work days, the district also applied for, and received, 3 waiver days from the Ohio Department of Education for staff development. Did those days reduce the number of classroom days for students?
Yes. The 3 days were approved by the Ohio Department of Education who waived the student days per the staff development plan submitted. Those days included September 3, 2013, January 6, 2014 and February 14, 2014.
Putting salary scales, minimum, and maximum salaries aside for a moment, what was the average salary actually paid to a Westlake school teacher in 2013? And what was that same number for North Olmsted, Bay Village, Avon, Avon Lake, and Rocky River?
The average teacher salary in Westlake is $72,720. The state has not yet provided 2013 information for the other districts.
As the state has not yet provided 2013 information, can you provide the comparison for FY 2012?
We do have data from FY12 for most of the comparison districts. The distribution of staff (experience and education) and the hiring of part-time staff impacts average salary. However, it is one of the numerous important measures that provide information to help understand our expenditures.
Here is a histogram of this year’s staff distribution.
Why does the State Treasurer of Ohio’s web site report top teacher salary in Westlake is $91,872 yet you report the top salary is $89,631?
The number you refer to is outdated and does not take into account that Westlake teachers’ base pay scale was reduced by 2.5% in January 2013. We have had to make some very difficult decisions without new levy money and $11 million in state funding cuts. Teachers agreed to reduce their salary schedule by 2.5% and also agreed to pay 50% more for their health insurance premiums – among other concessions.
Is it true that taxpayers in Westlake pay 100% of teachers’ retirement?
That is absolutely false. By law, teachers are not able to contribute to Social Security; they must enroll in the State Teachers Retirement System. The school district contributes 14% to this retirement plan as required by Ohio Revised Code, similar to how private employers contribute to Social Security and 401K plans for their employees. Teachers contribute 11% to this retirement plan, similar to how private employees contribute to Social Security.
Why aren’t you reducing salaries and compensation for teachers?
Without new levy money and less money from the state, we have had to make some very difficult decisions, including reducing our budget significantly. In January 2013, Westlake’s teachers agreed to reduce their salary schedule by 2.5% and pay 50% more for their health insurance premiums – among other concessions. In addition, the District instituted a 5% pay reduction for all new administrators and froze wages for non-teaching staff for two years.
If teacher salaries were supposed to be frozen last year, why did 65% of them receive raises?
We want bright and creative minds in our classrooms and we have to pay to attract them. That is what our students deserve and that is what parents want. Teachers’ base pay scale was reduced by 2.5% in January 2013, but some of our teachers received “step” raises for achieving milestones related to service. "Step" increments on salary schedules are very typical in personnel contracts, in fact they are part of every bordering districts' contracts.
When layoffs are necessary, why do you always lay off the newly hired teachers first? Why not make your decisions based on performance?
We have truly excellent teachers, including both our new teachers as well as those with greater experience and training. We wish we did not have to lay off any of them, but we have to make some very hard decisions as a result of the levy failure and significant budget deficit. Unfortunately, that includes reducing our workforce by 20-33 teaching positions.
Why does the Board refuse to invite the teacher’s union to negotiate a new contract in public?
Contract negotiations with public employees, including teachers for a public school district, are exempt from open meeting laws for many reasons. The contract between Westlake Schools and the teacher’s union requires the negotiations meetings occur in private. So, by law and by contract, these meetings occur in private. Negotiating a new contract is a complicated process. We need to be able to negotiate in good faith so there are no disruptions for our students.