South Dakota’s Catholic schools are feeling the pressure to pay their teachers what they are worth. Sioux Falls Catholic Schools Foundation exec Michelle Katen is hoping to raise money to boost salaries at O’Gorman at the rest of the Queen City’s Catholic schools proportionately to the boost public school teachers will get:
Katen’s goal is to see a 10 percent salary increase for Catholic school teachers this fall.
“We do an amazing job of fundraising for brick and mortar and buildings, and it’s now time to take care of our living stones,” Katen said.
Catholic school teachers have historically made less than their public school counterparts.
The average teacher pay for the Catholic schools in the city is $36,575, which was below the state average even before the pay increases approved earlier this year.
South Dakota’s average teacher pay moves up to $48,500 this year, and even with the 10 percent increase Catholic school teachers will make less than $40,000 annually [Megan Raposa, “Catholic Schools Work to Keep Salaries Competitive,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.05.10].
Raposa makes two math errors in that last statement. First, South Dakota’s average teacher pay does not move up to $48,500 this year. $48,500 is the target salary specified in the new funding formula enacted in Senate Bill 131. The $60.4 million appropriated by the state from the new half-penny sales tax of House Bill 1182 in strict accordance with the SB 131 formula can raise statewide average teacher pay no more than around $46,500.
Second, if the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools raise pay 10%, their new average salary will be $40,233.
That 10% raise won’t do much to improve the Catholic schools’ competitiveness in the labor market. If their average teacher salary is $36,575 right now, they are at 77% of the average salary I calculate for the Sioux Falls school district. If the Catholics give their teachers 10% raises, they’ll match the approximately 10% raise Sioux Falls public school teachers are getting, which means they’ll still be making just a bit more than three-fourths what their colleagues get.
Hmm… if a private education is more valuable to its customers than a public school education, shouldn’t the folks providing that education be making more than their public competitors? The market seems to be working in reverse in that situation.