Teacher salaries differ widely between districts in New Hampshire, and according to one school board chairman, the state’s funding formula is a major factor in the disparity. From the Concord Monitor:
In New Hampshire, a school district will pay teachers, on average, anywhere from $34,800 to $78,498 a year. The difference in salaries is the result of several factors – tax-base, affluence, and a community’s general willingness to pay. But in poorer districts, the competition between schools means administrators are typically left at the end of the year scrambling to fill new vacancies and finding money to retrain new hires.
With an average salary last year of $41,459, Pittsfield loses a lot of teachers to Pembroke Academy, Chichester, Barnstead, even Deerfield. It’s in the bottom 10 in the state for average teacher pay in districts with more than 10 teachers.
“It doesn’t matter which way you go – they pay better,” said Michael Wolfe, Pittsfield school board chairman.
The district, with 56 teachers, lost nearly a quarter of its staff the year before last. Among those were some “unbelievable teachers,” Wolfe said.
With $463,649 in tax-base per-pupil, Pittsfield has about half the taxing capacity than is average for the state. For Wolfe, that’s the main problem.
“The way New Hampshire funds its school is undoubtedly the biggest issue,” he said.
Costs of finding and re-training new staff aside, school officials say that the loss of consistency for students is the biggest – if intangible – loss for schools. Especially in higher-poverty districts where students are more likely to have instability in their lives, trusting relationships with adults at school can be important.
“Sometimes teachers and staff are one of the few constants,” said Laconia superintendent Brendan Minnihan. The district finally settled on a five-year contract last month after years without one as school and city officials struggled to reach a deal with teachers under the city’s tax-cap.