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Education Compensation - Latest Numbers

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

As outlined in our post What do School District Employees Really Make? it's vital for parents to know how their education dollars are being spent, and given 80 to 90% of that spending is on employee salaries and benefits, knowing what portion of those dollars are being given to district employees is a key part of that. One of the founders of this group - Todd Maddison - is the research director for a public watchdog site called Transparent California, which specializes in publishing that compensation data. Transparent California contains 28 million public employee compensation records, and growing daily. The data they publish is obtained directly from the school districts' own pay records, obtained via legal public records requests. If you would like to see what your local district actually pays its people, check there. As a quick summary as of this update (3/22/22), in 2020 in California the median total compensation of an administrative employee was $166,136, and the median total compensation of a certificated employee (generally a teacher, but includes some others) was $120,921. [Note that these totals may change as more data is acquired, see links below for latest summaries.]

"Total compensation" includes both "paycheck compensation"and "non-paycheck compensation". For a full description of what each type of compensation means you should read What do School District Employees Really Make?, but a quick summary is that paycheck compensation is "money you get in your check" and non-paycheck compensation is money that is paid by the organization you work for for benefits you get. We include non-paycheck compensation in the totals because it is significant in public agencies - often several times higher than non-paycheck compensation of individuals in private industry. For example, in private industry a standard "match" to a 401K (retirement) plan is 4.4% of employee pay. This means the employer gives the employee an amount equal to that percentage of the employee pay, deposited into their retirement account periodically. In public agencies, including schools, the total "match" amount in 2020 was 16.83%. As we said, "significantly higher". For private employees, imagine what it would be worth to you to have your employer put an additional amount equal to 17% of your salary into your retirement account - without you having to pay for it - every year. Would you not count that as compensation? In 2020 the median paycheck compensation of a certificated employee was $92,282. 16.83% of that is $15,531. If your employer put that into your 401K and it was invested in a way that secured a reasonably conservative return of 7% over 30 years, that would be worth $1,467,070. In other words, the additional non-paycheck compensation an education employee receives that private employees do not would, at median pay rates for teachers, be worth $1.5 million dollars to them in retirement. Any public employee that feels "that shouldn't count" is welcome to write a check as a donation to San Diego Schools for $1.5 million.... (!)

To get a true picture of current compensation rates, we periodically put together summaries of compensation by labor group - administration, certificated, and classified. These summaries will be updated as new data is put into the system, here are some links for you. This data is for the latest year available.

San Diego County only: All Employees -

Superintendents Only -

California State:

All Employees -

Superintendent only -

A folder with source data for this analysis is available at:

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