NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New York Education Costs Rising due to Teacher Salaries

February 20, 2015

New York legislators are embroiled in debate over how to fund K-12 education -- in 2011, a new law gave voters power to cap their property taxes (which fund education), which some New Yorkers are saying has forced schools to make massive cuts to programs and budgets. 

According to a report from the Empire Center, New York public schools cut thousands of positions after the recession, yet continued to see rising expenditures, despite drops in enrollment. According to the report:

  • Between the 2008-2009 school year and the 2013-2014 school year, New York's median teacher salary increased 11.5 percent, with many districts seeing salary increases twice that size, in large part due to automatic increases linked to employee seniority.
  • Including teachers and non-teaching professionals, median salaries increased by more than 40 percent from 2000-2001 to 2013-2014.   
  • These wage increases have occurred despite falling enrollment.  The schools were employing almost as many professional staffers in 2013-2014 as they were in 2000-2001; however, there were 304,633 fewer students in 2013-2014.

The report notes that costs have also risen because schools fired teachers using union rules that require the dismissal of younger teachers (so-called "last in, first out" rules). Because teacher contracts generally give much higher salaries based on experience, salary costs have increased. Moreover, pay increases translate into higher pension costs: according to the report, New York City's employer contribution to its teachers' retirement system grew by 33 percent between the 2008-2009 school year and the 2013-2014 school year, rising from $2.3 billion to $3.1 billion.

Source: "What's driving k-12 school costs?" Empire Center, February 3, 2015.

 

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