New Update: Teacher Walkouts Potentially Cost Taxpayers $ 13.3 Million

According to Colorado Chalkbeat, 27 Colorado school districts have cancelled classes due to the teacher walkouts scheduled later this week. Based on the average teacher salary in each district plus the cost of PERA benefits, the teacher walkouts in the 27 districts are potentially costing taxpayers $13.3 million. This figure does not include classified employees who serve at each school.

It is not possible to calculate the cost to individual families who must pay for childcare or stay home from work. Some children may be left at home alone by desperate parents who risk losing their jobs if they don’t show up to their place of employment. Instructional time will be forever lost. More than one day of instruction may have been lost because of the unrest the walkouts have caused at school and at home.

The Independence Institute has received many requests for information about teacher pay. According to the Colorado Department of Education, the average salary for teachers is $52,728. However, when you don’t include Boards of Cooperative Services (BOCES), but do include all 178 school districts and the state’s chartering authority (the Charter School Institute), the average teacher salary is $42,813. A teacher may work about 37 weeks out of the year. Someone with only two weeks of vacation at the same pay would earn $57,855 a year. This figure is not total compensation. It does not include the generous retirement program, PERA, or health benefits that most Colorado teachers receive.

Unlike many states, Colorado does not have a statewide salary schedule. School districts and charter schools decide how much teachers are paid. Some use a performance-pay system. If you want to know how teachers are paid in your district there are salary schedules available on your school district’s website. Averages can be misleading. One district may have a high number of young teachers and another may have a stable group of seasoned and highly-educated teachers earning higher salaries.

Teacher compensation is a complicated discussion and this post is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion.