Report ranks Kansas last in salaries paid to teachers in rural school districts

PEABODY, Kan. (KSNW) –  A new national report shows that Kansas ranks dead last in average salaries, paid to teachers in rural districts.

The report was conducted by Rural School and Community Trust.

It shows that Kansas, on average, pays teachers in rural school districts $40,900 a year.

That is last among the 50 states.

In comparison, first on the list was Alaska, which pays teachers in rural districts $87, 805 a year.

Ron Traxson is the Superintendent for USD 398, which oversees the Peabody-Burns school district.

He says he wears many hats.

“I’ve taken over as the Elementary Principal, as well as Superintendent, that goes along with Transportation Director, Food Service Director,” said Traxson.

Part of the reason he has taken on so many roles, Traxson says, was to be able to pay his teachers more.

“Our base pay is $32,200 and that’s only after a raise for the first time in nine years,” said Traxson.

That is up 700-hundred dollars from where the starting pay once was.

The report shows that Kansas is about $17,000 below the average paid to teachers in rural districts.

On average, the report showed teachers in rural districts in the United States make $57,800.

“The overall lack of some increase in some salaries is the reason the market is not there, we don’t have people going into education,” said Traxson.

It has caused superintendents in small districts, like Traxson, to have to be creative in finding qualified teachers.

“The fact there is not a lot of teachers out there, you’re seeing things like teachers in transition, from the regular work force and they say hey, I’d like to do some teaching, transition into the educational setting,” said Traxson.

So KSN asked Traxson, how can he attract teachers to come work in his district?

“Hopefully it is by what we offer with the personnel they get to work with and maybe some benefits of being in a small school versus a large,” said Traxson.

Traxson says another issue revolving around teacher pay has to do with the pending legislation from both the state and federal government

He says the state is slated to pump $200 million into schools next year.

However, Kansas schools could also lose $46 million if the U.S. Senate writes legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.