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76% of per-pupil spending pays teachers' salaries, stats show


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SALT LAKE CITY — As kids head back to class, it's worth remembering that half of Utah's state budget goes to schools. Utah spends less per student than every other state, but still, it's a lot of money.

According to the newest data, 84 percent of student funding goes to salaries. When KSL reported that a few months ago, viewers asked if that means teachers' or administrators' salaries.

"I would say it's very likely they pay themselves too much," said Utah resident Ellie Bennett.

Another Utahn, Jamie Larsen, said, "I would assume administrators make the big bucks."

Eunique Howard added, "I've been hearing a lot of complaints about the teachers not getting paid what they should be getting paid."

Nearly everyone KSL heard from believes too much of Utah's education money goes to pay administrators.

KSL sat down with the school finance experts at the State Office of Education to pull apart salary stats. Here are the findings:

  • Of the roughly $5,803 spent on each Utah student in school operation budgets, $4,379 -- or 76 percent -- goes to teachers' salaries. That includes aides, librarians and counselors.
  • $399 -- or 7 percent -- goes to school administrators, like principals and office staff.

Spending breakdown
  • 76% - teachers' salaries
  • 7% - administrators (principals, etc)
  • 1% - general administrators (superintendents, etc.)
  • 10% - operations and maintenance
  • 4% - transportation, etc.

  1. Just 1 percent, or $72, goes to general administrators like superintendents and the state board.
  2. The rest -- $580, or 10 percent -- goes to school operations and maintenance.
  3. $205, or 4 percent, goes toward things like transportation. It gets really interesting when Utah numbers are compared to those across the country. According to the National Center for Education statistics, Utah ranks last (No. 51) in spending per student. But it ranks No. 6 in the nation for the percentage of education budget spent on teachers' salaries. Utah ranks No. 39 for the percentage spent on administrators. "We hear that frequently," said state Superintendent Martel Menlove. "If you'd just cut back on administration, everything would be better." "We're putting out limited resources where they really need to be put, which is wherever possible in classrooms and instruction," Menlove added. Even after knowing the national comparisons, many people want more money directed to teachers. "I would say administrators are vital to the whole operation, but teachers need to be compensated for their efforts in the classroom," said Utah resident Annie Storrs. Highest and lowest salaries The districts where Utah teachers make the most: Park City, Rich, Salt Lake, and Millard. Teachers make the least in charter schools, with a median salary- of about $35,500. To compare the actual administrator salaries, KSL called each district and found principals' salaries are largely determined by school size and experience. Principals at big schools like Lone Peak and Bingham make more than principals in, say, Morgan or the "head teacher" at Grouse Creek. The same holds true with superintendents. In larger districts, salaries top $200,000. In smaller districts, salaries range closer to $100,000.

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Nadine Wimmer

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