U46 big-district status doesn’t equal big salaries (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

If you want to take home Illinois’ top dollar in teacher pay over time, don’t head to Chicago, where beginning salaries start out strong but fade in the stretch.

Don’t even head to tony Winnetka or Lincolnshire — nor even the state’s second-largest district, Elgin’s School District U46.

Instead, head straight to the near southwest suburbs. Blue-collar Burbank. Working-class Summit. Middle-class Oak Lawn.

A pocket of suburbs southwest of Chicago — some of them kissing the city’s border — have a blue-chip salary schedule that rewards starting teachers as well as the most veteran, highly credentialed ones with some of the steepest teacher pay in the state. Their beginning and ending teacher salaries are among the top 15 in Illinois.

The compensation surpasses even what is paid in Winnetka and Lincolnshire, where bottom and top scales are nothing to weep about, coming in among the top 25 in the state.

The starting salaries for teachers in U46 don’t even reach the top 25 percent. A starting teacher with a bachelor’s degree made $39,349 last year, a salary that ranked No. 228 among the 868 school districts in Illinois.

But with more education comes not only better salaries but some better rankings for the Elgin-based school district among the salaries that comparable teachers earn in districts across the state.

A starting teacher with a master’s degree netted $46,430 in U46, ranking 134; and a veteran with the same degree was paid $83,903, ranking No. 187 in the state. Top salary for a U46 teacher was $96,114, ranking somewhat higher at No. 163.

U46 Chief of Staff Tony Sanders noted the district’s teachers union, the Elgin Teachers Association, had agreed to a one-year pay freeze last school year. They since have emerged from lengthy negotiations with “a very reasonable salary agreement,” Sanders said.

“The teachers union and our teachers understand the economy in which we live,” he said.

Comparatively, new teachers earned a bit more in nearby Community Unit School District 300.

A beginning teacher in the Carpentersville-based district with a bachelor’s ranked 140 ($41,581) in Illinois, and top salary at No. 125 ($101,517). A beginner with a master’s in District 300 came in close to his or her peers in U46, at No. 192; but a veteran with the same degree fell off to No. 357.

Chicago Public Schools, meantime, starts out strong for beginning teachers but falls over the long haul — a “front loading” phenomenon one expert said risks turning Chicago into a “farm system” for districts that pay better long term.

A starting CPS teacher with a bachelor’s degree pulled down a salary that ranked No. 16 statewide this past school year, at $50,577. Not bad. A rookie with a master’s: No. 30. But top salary for a veteran with a master’s: a drop to No. 140.

The big surprise: The top amount a Chicago teacher can earn is only $95,887. That’s a further tumble to No. 167 statewide, below both Districts 300 and U46.

For the rest of the story, read U46 big-district status doesn’t equal big salaries (Sun-Times Media).

To find out how much teachers in your school district make and compare that to other Illinois school districts, search Database: llinois teacher salaries: How school districts compare (Sun-Times Media).

To search for salaries by teacher or administrator’s name or by school, search Database: Search for Illinois teacher and administrator salaries (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: John J. Kim for Sun-Times Media.