Competitive Teacher Salaries

Whether it’s helping someone read and write for the first time, guiding a future engineer through complex math problems, or simply listening to a student during a troubled time in his/her life, we count on our teachers.  

Yet what many don't realize is that all too often, teachers can make considerably more money by accepting a teaching position in Denver or Boulder — just a short drive away — instead of Jeffco. If our community wants to count on keeping our teachers in Jeffco, competitive wages are critical.

If one compares the average Jeffco teacher salary to those in nearby districts, most teachers in Jeffco make less. This makes it hard for Jeffco Schools to attract and retain quality teachers. To keep Jeffco’s best teachers here, we need to offer competitive salaries. The mill levy override will address this problem.

At first glance, Jeffco’s rates don’t look that different from other districts. However, the discrepancies become clear when one takes a closer look each district’s rules and regulations. Jeffco caps teacher salaries at seven years of experience. Even if a teacher has been teaching for longer in another district, Jeffco will only pay for seven. This can make a major impact to the bottom line.

For example, consider these three hypothetical  teachers and their pay in Jeffco to that in nearby districts.

Comparison: Salaries for 3 Teachers in 4 Metro-Area Districts

Tyrone, a veteran teacher, has taught for 10 years. He teaches in a hard-to-staff position and specializes in hard-to-staff schools. He has a master's degree and is moving from out of state.

Sally is a first year teacher with a bachelor's degree.

Kayla is a Colorado native moving back home from out of state. She has a master's and a doctorate, along with 15 years of experience.

Here’s what that looks like in terms of pay.

A teacher with 10 years of experience and a master’s degree, in a hard-to-fill position

According to Jeffco’s licensed salary calculator, a typical 10-year teacher with a master’s degree would make $57,163 during his first year in Jeffco. If Tyrone was hired in a hard-to-fill position, it would bump his pay to $59,507.

If Tyrone were hired for a hard-to-fill position Denver Public Schools, he’d make more. DPS caps experience at 10 years, so Tyrone would make 5 percent more in base salary — $62,694.75. In a hard-to-fill position in a hard-to-serve school, he’d earn nearly 15 percent more than in Jeffco — $68,170.75.

Tyrone would also make more in a hard-to-fill position in the Cherry Creek School District. Cherry Creek’s salary schedule caps hard-to-fill position at 10 years, making his salary there $70,361.

The Boulder Valley School District salary schedule does not automatically recognize prior experience, but gives flexibility “to offer prospective employees placement at a higher lane...up to the middle of the schedule.” If Tyrone’s experience wasn’t recognized, he’d start at $57,193.” However, because he would likely be selected for a hard-to-fill position, there’s a good chance that he would be placed in a higher lane.

Tyrone would also make more in the Littleton School District, where with a master's degree and 10 years of experience he would be hired at $63,695 per year — $6,532 more than Jeffco.

Teacher with 10 years experience, master's degre

A first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree

In Jeffco, Sally, the first-year teacher with a master’s degree, would make $39,923. Compare that to starting salaries in neighboring districts:

  • $42,789.67 in Denver Public Schools
  • $39,405 in Cherry Creek
  • $46,336 in Boulder Valley
  • $36,754 in Littleton Public Schools

First year teacher starting salaries

A teacher with 15 years of experience and a doctorate

Jeffco does not offer additional pay for teachers with doctoral degrees, and as previously noted, Jeffco caps experience at seven years. In Jeffco, Kayla’s estimated salary would be $63,603.

DPS recognizes 10 of Kayla’s 15 years of experience and also includes additional salary for doctoral degrees. In DPS, Kayla would make 20 percent more: $76,087.50. That’s $12,000 more than in Jeffco.

Cherry Creek, on the other hand, also does not offer additional pay for a doctorate. There Kayla would max out at five years experience and start at $65,149.

Boulder recognizes doctoral degrees, so Kayla would make approximately $79,251 — a full $15,648 more than in Jeffco.

Littleton Public Schools recognizes up to 15 years of service for those with bachelor's degrees and up to 17 years of service for those with master's and a doctorate. There, Kayla would make about $80,945 — $17,342 more than Jeffco.

15-year teacher with doctorate

Bottom line: Jeffco does not offer competitive salaries for experienced teachers

As the numbers show, experienced teachers like Tyrone and Kayla will probably choose a higher-paying position in Denver or Boulder.

The trends are undeniable: in most cases, teachers make more money — sometimes significantly more — by choosing to teach in a neighboring district. This discrepancies are especially pronounced for more experienced and educated teachers.

Can Jeffco keep quality teachers here when the potential to earn is higher in communities just a short drive away? It seems unlikely.

In order to attract and retain quality teachers here in Jeffco, we must offer competitive salaries. This is true not only for teachers, but also for speech pathologists, school counselors, school nurses, bus drivers, and custodians.

If the mill levy override is passed, 50 percent of it will be used to increase pay to attract the best teachers and staff to Jeffco. We don’t want Jeffco to be a training ground that loses its best educators to Denver and Boulder.

Vote YES on the mill levy override in November.

*Note: All salaries have been estimated from online salary schedules.


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