Alaska ranks 10th nationwide in teacher salaries

Posted: Sunday, July 06, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Teacher salaries in Alaska ranked 10th in the nation according to a state-by-state survey of educators pay by the American Federation of Teachers.

While Alaska teachers appear to fare better than average when compared to their peers in other states, starting pay for teachers topped the list.

''It's a real positive for Alaska because of the shortage of teachers nationwide,'' said Ann Shortt, superintendent of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. ''To know that we've got an attractive salary will help in recruiting.''

Average teacher salaries for Alaska educators was $49,028 during the 2001-02 school year, the survey showed. That was up from the previous year.

It was also nearly $5,000 higher than the national average of $44,367. California topped the list of highest paid teachers with an average salary of $54,348. Among other states at the top; Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

South Dakota reported the lowest average salary in the survey at $31,383. Teacher salaries in Puerto Rico averaged $25,430.

Starting teachers in Alaska made on average $36,035, which is less than a percentage point drop from the previous year.

Nationally, better salaries for first-time teachers and a slow job market outside the education field helped shrink a national teacher shortage, the union said. But state fiscal woes have slowed education pay.

Significant teacher shortages remain in the fields of math, physics, biology and Spanish, the union reported.

''We can't afford to ignore and lose experienced teachers, whose salaries are not showing much improvement,'' said Sandra Feldman, president of the union representing 1.2 million education workers.

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