Teachers in Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky are protesting low wages. So far the walkouts haven’t reached Wyoming, in part due to relatively high — yet stagnant — teacher salaries.

A recently released report shows that Wyoming’s average teacher salary ranking remains unchanged at 17th in the nation. The National Education Association’s annual rankings and estimates are produced in partnership with state Departments of Education.

But the report also contains statistics teachers are less likely to celebrate. Wyoming ranked 48th in the nation for growth in teacher salaries, meaning 47 states provided larger salary increases to teachers than Wyoming in the 2016-17 school year.

“This report proves that Wyoming must keep pace with other states in the areas of teacher and instructional staff salaries or we too will end up in the same boat as other states in crisis,” Wyoming Education Association President Kathy Vetter said in a press release. “Wyoming must continue to be competitive in salaries going forward.”

Wyoming’s average teacher salary is $58,578, a 0.7 percent increase from last year. The U.S. average one-year change in public school teacher salaries was 2 percent, but the report notes that when the effects of inflation are calculated, the average classroom teacher salary decreased by 4 percent between the 2008-09 and 2017-18 school years.

Wyoming’s average teacher salary is close to the 2016-17 national average teacher salary, $59,660, and the estimated 2017-18 salary, $60,483. New York, California and Massachusetts had the highest average teacher salaries, with Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia reporting the lowest.

Teton County salaries are higher than Wyoming averages due to a regional cost-of-living adjustment. A first-year certified teacher in Teton County with a bachelor’s degree makes $55,080. Teachers make more money with additional years of experience and education, topping out at $95,581 for a hypothetical teacher with 30 years of experience and a doctorate.

The rankings come against a backdrop of $27 million in education funding cuts statewide.

“The investment Wyoming makes in public education shows in our consistently high assessment scores and student achievements,” Vetter said. “The report marks a time when school funding cuts begin to impact our ability to maintain funding for salaries, and thus to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers. Cuts to education now may negatively impact Wyoming’s student performance in the future.”

Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079, schools@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGschools.

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