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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 25, 2019 01:18 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: 45k minimum teacher salary
I will shortly introduce legislation that will increase the minimum teacher salary in Pennsylvania from $18,500 to $45,000. The education professionals helped by the minimum salary proposal are currently not earning enough to raise a small family and pay their college debt. Given the crucial role teachers play in the lives of students, they shouldn’t have to scrape to make ends meet.

This proposal demonstrates respect for professional educators by providing them with a wage that is more in line with what similarly educated professionals earn. In 2017, the statewide median salary of Pennsylvanians with bachelor’s degrees was $47,470.

My bill would:
  1. Increase the minimum salary in the Public School Code from $18,500 to $45,000. The last time the minimum salary for educators was increased was in 1989. Since then teaching has become much more challenging. Teachers face increased continuing education requirements, more students with complex needs, and the daunting task of keeping students safe in the classroom. The commonwealth is behind schedule for a necessary adjustment to keep pace with inflation – especially for some communities that don’t have the local tax base to attract and retain educators. The Governor’s Budget Office estimates there are 3,115 educators in 180 school districts, 27 CTCs and 9 IUs who would be positively impacted.
  2. Establish a FUNDED mandate by providing public school entities with supplemental state funding to their base. This bill would ensure that the new salary requirement would be funded by the state, including salary, pension, social security and Medicare. The Governor’s Budget Office estimates that the cost for FY 19-20 would be:
    • Salary - $9.8 million
    • Medicare - $142,000
    • Social Security - $610,000
    • Pension (both state and local) - $3.3 million
The proposed budget includes $13.8 million to finance the projected cost to cover the difference in between $45K and what affected educators would have earned in 2019-2020 under the collective bargaining agreement without the increase in the minimum salary requirements. This modest investment represents less than one quarter of one percent of the state’s total investment in public education. Yet, its impact on districts’ ability to attract educators—particularly considering the looming teacher shortage—will be immense.

3. Ensure that all professional educators are covered. – This proposal ensures that educator-type
employees—like social workers, psychologists, and therapists—who are employed in professional
positions, would be legally recognized as “professional employees” and would be included in
minimum salary requirements.

This legislation would NOT require collective bargaining agreements be reopened to reflect the new salaries. There is nothing in the bill that would require current contracts to be modified, only that the educators earning under $45K in school year 19-20 be paid $45K. The school entity would receive the state funding to cover the difference between $45K and what the employee would have been paid in 2019-20 and will then pay that amount as a supplement to the employee.

Moreover, my bill would ensure the qualifying school entities’ supplemental funding is locked in as part of their basic education funding base. Under a normal contract, teachers move up one step toward the top “step” each year. In 2020-21, the salary increases required to bring employees up to $45K would decrease due to normal step movement. However, the minimum salary supplement would become part of a district’s BEF base in the first year and each year thereafter.

Finally, given the limited scope of this proposal it is my intention to solve the specific and narrow problem of teacher retention in certain locations. Much like when the minimum salary was increased 30 years ago, I do not anticipate this increase will have a broader impact on educator salaries above $45,000.

Please join me cosponsoring this very important legislation.

Introduced as SB656