May 14, 2024 - Education

Teacher salaries flat as Colorado charts new education vision

Map showing average teacher salaries by U.S. state for the 2022-23 school year. The average U.S. teacher salary was $69,544. California, New York and Massachusetts had the highest average salaries at over $90,000 while salaries were lowest in West Virginia, Florida and South Dakota at around $53,000.
Data: National Education Association; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Colorado's public education system saw a meaningful redesign at the Capitol this year.

State of play: State lawmakers fulfilled their vow to provide schools with more money, meeting the constitutional requirements of Amendment 23 for the first time since 2009, and then approved a new funding formula that has been a decade in the making.

Why it matters: The policy shifts showcase how public education emerged as a major theme in the legislative session that ended last week and projected a new vision for the future.

Zoom in: The formula for how much money school districts receive from the state prompted the most heated debate and only came through in the final hours of the 120-day term.

  • The legislation adds $500 million in new spending over six years as a transition period before districts will see different sums based on the needs of the students they serve, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.
  • The goal is to improve achievement by boosting spending in rural districts, those with large numbers of English learners and others with low-income households.

Yes, but: One area lawmakers left to local districts to handle is teacher pay. Colorado teachers saw their salaries increase by 1.1% in the 2022-23 school year, according to a new Axios analysis of data from the National Education Association, the teacher's union.

  • The increase was the second lowest in the nation among states and Washington, D.C.

By the numbers: The average Colorado teacher now makes $60,775, which is 29th in the nation.

What to watch: Lawmakers did offer incentives as part of a package of workforce and training bills this year.

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