by Chris Kirk (updated: July 21, 2015)
The Shrewsbury School Department has been giving its teachers raises of 4% per year throughout this prolonged recession. The question then arises: Are other cities and towns in the state as reckless as Shrewsbury is? Answer: No.
Take a look at the graph below (which I admit is a bit cluttered) −
The RED line represents the average salary of Shrewsbury teachers. The BLACK line represents the average salary of teachers statewide. The data came from the state Dept. of Education’s Web site: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/teachersalaries.aspx?mode=&orderBy=&year=2013&filterBy=
Note that from 1996 to 2006, the average salary of teachers in the state rose by 3.1% per year − roughly the traditional rate of inflation. The average salary of Shrewsbury teachers roughly followed the state trend − sometimes Shrewsbury was a bit above the state average, sometimes it was a bit below.
But then, suddenly, between 2006 and 2007, the average salary of teachers statewide jumped upwards. The gravy train continued into 2008, but then, in 2009, the recession hit, and the party was over. From 2008 to 2012 − the last year for which data is available − the average salary of teachers statewide rose at only 1.57% per year.
However, the party in Shrewsbury continued. From 2006 to 2012, the average salary of Shrewsbury teachers rose 4.25% per year. When the recession hit in 2009, the Shrewsbury School Department took no notice of it. The party rolled on − even as the rest of the state applied the brakes to raises for teachers.
The excesses of the Shrewsbury School Department are illustrated even more clearly when Shrewsbury’s total expenditures on teachers’ salaries are compared to the total expenditures on teachers’ salaries by the entire state:
The RED line represents the total amount of money spent on teachers’ salaries by Shrewsbury (right-hand scale).
The BLUE line represents the total amount of money spent on teachers’ salaries by all of the municipalities (cities and towns) in the entire state (left-hand scale).
The graph shows clearly that from 1996 to 2006, Shrewsbury’s spending on teachers’ salaries roughly followed the trend of the rest of the state. However, after 2006, Shrewsbury’s spending on salaries grew faster than that of the rest of the state, with the excess growing steadily for years.
So an override became the only way to fill the gap between reality and the School Department’s generosity with your money. And overrides will continue to be required until the Shrewsbury School Department begins to follow the pay policy of the rest of the state and thereby acknowledge that the country remains mired in a persistent recession.