Average teacher pay in Kentucky ranks 41st in nation

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Several new reports on education show Kentucky as one of the worst states in the country for teacher pay.

According to the National Education Association, the national average teacher salary is $69,544. In Kentucky, the average is far less at $56,296.

Kentucky dropped from 40th to 41st in the nation with the latest stats.

The average salary for new Kentucky teachers is $39,204, ranking 45th in the country.

Education Support Professionals (ESPs) like bus drivers, janitors, and paraeducators have an average salary of $27,053 in Kentucky, 47th in the U.S.

According to the report, of the seven surrounding states, only Kentucky ranks 40th or worse in each of the three categories.

“After going through the budget session, we fought really hard for mandated raises and adjustments to our standard salary schedule for educators in Kentucky, and these numbers reflect why we were fighting so hard,” said Kentucky Education Association (KEA) president Eddie Campbell.

Adjusted for inflation, on average, teachers are making 5.3% less than they did 10 years ago, according to the reports.

“You probably wouldn’t find an educator in the state of Kentucky who’d say their load has gotten lighter,” said Campbell. “If anything, they’re gonna talk about how they’re doing more and more with less and less, and now they’re doing more and more with less and less pay.”

Campbell fears Kentucky can’t compete with nearby states in attracting and retaining educators, and he had hoped the latest legislative session would address the concerns of educator advocates like himself.

“I think our general assembly missed a historic opportunity,” said Campbell. “We had historic revenue coming into our state, we have a historic rainy day fund we’ve built up, our state is booming, we are growing economically, so they missed an opportunity to say ‘Hey, we are going to invest in our public schools and educators who work with our students because we want the best schools in the nation.’”

In an interview earlier in the day, Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman echoed the concerns, “The Governor and I have been committed to raising teacher salaries every year that we’ve been in office,” said Coleman. “Every year the Governor has included a significant raise for teachers in the budget, and every year the legislature has taken it out.”

While the General Assembly did pass an increase to SEEK, Kentucky’s main funding source for K-12 public education, advocates feel it merely scratches the surface.

“The problem is, SEEK hasn’t kept up with inflation and the cost of running a school,” said Campbell. “Even with the new investments of 3% in the first year and an additional 6% in the second year in the budget that was passed, we’re still behind about 26% where we should be. The states around us are investing in educator salaries. They’re really focusing on that, and that should be concerning to everyone in the Commonwealth,” said Campbell.

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