Re: Article, June 12, “Local schools scramble to find teachers,” the lead story on the Local & State section of the Northwest Florida Daily News.
On Page B3 of the subject article, the writer, Leah Johnson, reported that, “According to DOE ... Okaloosa teachers average a few dollars above $51,300 (per year).” I believe that the “average annual teacher’s salary” may have been “massaged” by DOE (Florida Department of Education) or Okaloosa County — or both.
To reach an average annual teacher’s salary of “... a few dollars above $51,300,” I believe that the pay of administrators, including Okaloosa County School District Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson, and other members of her staff, who are not classroom teachers — as well as principals and vice principals, who also are not classroom teachers — must have been included in Okaloosa County’s average annual teacher’s salary.
If average classroom teachers in the Okaloosa County School District were actually receiving “a few dollars above (the) $51,300” annual salary that DOE reports they are receiving, Okaloosa County School District would not have had 200 openings at the end of the 2015-16 school year. A job fair would not be required to fill vacancies. Instead, they’d be screening applications from more qualified teachers than there are vacancies.
Along the same lines, and in the same Sunday issue, was an article by Ms. Laurie J. Bartlett on the Second Opinion page, Section A, Page 14, entitled, “Isaac Newton was a genius but he couldn’t build robot.” It’s a very effective plea for STEM teachers.
A pull quote about midway through that column, and mostly under the Guest Column head, reads: “As a state and nation we don’t need another lawyer or journalist. We don’t need another actor or athlete, rapper or politician ... We need STEM teachers who will challenge and fire up the imagination of their students.”
I suggest — other than adding additional administrators to the list of things we don’t need — that the actual starting pay for STEM classroom teachers should be “a few dollars above $51,300.”
I personally know an actual classroom teacher who is a veteran with a bachelor’s degree who has taught for three years in the Okaloosa County School District. The actual (not average) annual pay of that dedicated teacher is $34,000. That’s a few dollars less than “a few dollars above $51,300.”
About $17,000 and a few dollars less.
Carl E. Anderson is a resident of Fort Walton Beach.