PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - In a News Channel 3 I-Team Investigation, Jeff Stahl requested and examined teacher pay records for three local school districts around the Coachella Valley.
Teachers who worked the entire 2016 -2017 school year in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, the Desert Sands Unified School District and the Palm Springs Unified School District all made at least $50,000.
KESQ only added up regular pay and overtime pay amounts for teachers who worked this entire past school year.
Lump sum payments, other payments, and defined benefits were not included in our calculations. Neither were district contributions to retirement plans, or to medical fringe benefits which include medical, dental and vision.
11-percent of the 2,904 full-year teachers earned between $50,000 and $60,000 dollar. The largest group of teachers, 25-percent, made between $90,000 and $100,000 dollars. 16-percent earned more than $100,000 dollars for the school year. The highest paid teacher earned $155,684 dollars for the year.
Mauricio Arellano, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Palm Springs Unified School district said,"Additional benefits as part of their compensation package would be the district's contribution to their retirement plans, obviously a maximum contribution to their medical fringe benefits which includes medical, dental and vision."
The average pay for public school teachers was $86,183 in the Desert Sands Unified School District, $83,175 for the Palm Springs Unified School District and $81,044 for the Coachella Valley Unified School District.
All three local districts made more than the statewide Public School Teachers average salary of $72,535 dollars for the 2014-2015 school year.
Tony Signoret, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Desert Sands Unified School District said, "I do feel we are doing everything possible to compensate them for that hard work during the school year."
Signoret says the district offers teachers other ways to boost their paychecks.
Said Signoret, "There are those opportunities for them to receive compensation for those very valuable activities such as after school activities, coaching and performing arts. There are many of those opportunities."
All full-year teachers in our area earned more than Riverside County's Per Capita Income of $35,600 dollars, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
All but the lowest paid teachers earned more than Riverside County's Median Household Income of $58,292 dollars, according to the Census Bureau.
Palm Springs Teachers Union President, Herb Claggett, says the numbers show that teachers are firmly entrenched into the middle class and paid almost as well as just before our latest big recession.
Claggett said, "It is nice to have a paycheck that gets you all the things the middle class has wanted. A home, some land, a good retirement, security."
Claggett says his union would like to see teachers at the lower end of the scale make more money to pay for their educations.
Teachers get to the top of the pay scale with more years with their district and more post-graduate education including master and doctoral degrees.
Not considered here are the additional costs teachers incur, union dues, personal money for classroom supplies and the inability to move to another district without losing pay scale seniority.
But Arellano says his Palm Springs Unified teachers are being paid fairly and equitably compared to other districts. "I think teachers are earning a fair wage. But what they're worth is invaluable," said Arellano.