Teachers in Dayton Public Schools pushed for better contract conditions in 2017. The district’s starting salary is higher than many local districts, but veteran DPS teachers make thousands of dollars less than surrounding schools. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Dayton teachers to get raises; top pay of $84k still below other districts

Editor’s Note: The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education recently approved a plan to spend more than $60 million addressing some of the district’s most pressing needs. This story looks at one of those spending priorities. Go here for the full story on the strategic plan. 

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As part of its recently approved spending plan, the Dayton Public Schools board signed off on a “salary adjustment for teachers” that will cost the district an extra $4.5 million per year.

DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said it is aimed at making salaries more competitive with other districts to help Dayton schools recruit and retain talented teachers. In Ohio, school districts negotiate teacher pay with their teachers unions, and salary is based on education level and years of experience.

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“When you have 35 years (teaching), and you’re sitting at $63,000 with a bachelor’s degree, that’s embarrassing,” Lolli said. “Why would you stay? … We needed to do something differently, so we raised that.”

In the just completed school year, that Dayton teacher with more than 30 years experience and a bachelor’s degree would have earned $63,502. A similar teacher locally would have made $75,139 in Huber Heights and $85,096 in Beavercreek. In other urban districts, a similar teacher would have earned $68,180 in Toledo and $82,091 in Cincinnati.

Lolli would not release the new salary schedules Wednesday. The school board is slated to vote on the proposal later this month. This newspaper filed a public records request for those documents Thursday.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON OUR PATH FORWARD: DAYTON SCHOOLS FACEBOOK GROUP

Lolli did say the district’s new base starting salary would be about $44,000, which would be near the top of local districts. She said the very peak of the new salary scale – for a teacher with a PhD and 20-plus years – would be $84,000. That’s a $10,000 increase for Dayton schools, but still well below many local suburban districts.

Later this month, the school board is expected to ratify a two-year contract extension with the teachers union through 2021-22. It would lock in 3 percent pay raises each of those years, plus the “salary adjustment.” That $4.5 million adjustment means each teacher will jump ahead two rungs on the “experience step” scale, to make up for past “step” freezes, and two new, larger steps will be added for teachers at 19 and 20 years of experience.

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“With the change in our ability to recruit, with higher salaries for both teachers and principals, we’re pretty sure that we’re going to make a major difference in how we do instruction in our classrooms,” Lolli said.

Teachers union President David Romick said there are teachers who will never consider Dayton Public Schools regardless of the pay. But for many others, the salary bump may prevent them from leaving for higher-paying suburbs after a few years.

“For people who are currently teaching in Dayton, I think it will help a lot,” Romick said. “To work in Dayton or any urban district, you have to have a draw to that. The factors you mentioned – the test scores, and the discipline and safety – go with working in an urban district. If you’re drawn to working in an urban district, you accept those things as part of the package.”

Lolli said the salary adjustment “helps people who are committed to urban education stay here.”

Josh Sweigart is a member of the Investigation & Community Impact Team for the Dayton Daily News whose stories have focused on government waste, fraud, abuse and accountability. He's won several awards for investigative reporting, including an Emmy Award and numerous awards from the Associated Press Society of Ohio and Society of Professional Journalists. Contact him on Facebook or Twitter.

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