The following analysis is derived using data available from various sources as listed in the “References/Data Source” section below.
For a full description of the methodology used, see “Methodology”
Data for this analysis was looked at for a period starting in 2012 and ending in 2018, based on the latest pay data available from the sources listed.
San Diego County Compensation
As a baseline for comparison to compensation levels normal in private industry in this area, I’m using statistics for private industry as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).
The ACS does not yet have data available for 2018, however we can look at past data from 2012 through 2017 and use the growth rates for that period as a guide to project 2018 values (as noted).
Average County Wages
According to the BLS, in 2018 the average pay of private industry workers in the county was $60,260/year.
For the period 2012-2018 the BLS Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of wages was 2.21% per year.
Median Wages by Educational Attainment
To determine comparable wages by educational attainment, I use ACS numbers, which are reported as median values.
According to the ACS in 2017 the median county resident with a bachelor’s degree made $57,697/year. The median for those with graduate or professional degrees was $81,872/year.
The exact mix of educational attainment for SUHSD teachers is not available as public data, however in 2016 the California Legislative Analyst’s Office published a study (linked below) that determined 58% of teachers in the state had bachelor’s degrees, the remaining 42% had a master’s degree or higher.
I have no district-specific data for SUHSD’s mix and so will assume
SUHSD’s workforce has a similar mix of educational attainment.
If we adjust the ACS numbers to weight them according to this 58/42% mix, the average SD County resident with educational attainment similar to the teacher workforce made $67,851 in 2017.
For the period 2012-2017, the CAGR for ACS educational attainment weighted wages was 2.68%.
Accordingly, the projected comparable wage for 2018 would be $69,669/year ($67,851 + 2.68%.)
Sweetwater Union High Compensation
Using public pay data reported by Sweetwater Union High, obtained through California Public Records Act requests and posted on the Transparent California website, we find:
All Full-Time Employees
In 2018, the average total pay of all 3204 full-time SUHSD employees was $86,076/year.
This is $25,816/year, or 42.84% more than average county residents.
In 2018, the average total pay for all 2214 full-time
employees who have been with the district since 2012 was $89,651/year. The median for such employees is $95,322/year.
In 2012, the average total pay for these employees was $68,029/year. The median was $70,436/year.
Since 2012, this cohort of employees has had their average total pay increase by $21,621/year (or 31.78%), with a CAGR of 4.71%.
This average growth rate is 2.13 times greater than the rate of growth for the average county resident (of 2.21%) during this period.
Median total pay for this group increased with a CAGR of 5.17%.
In 2018, the average total pay for 141 full-time administrative employees was $136,764/year. The median for such employees was $134,137/year.
In 2018, the average total pay for the 98 full-time administrative employees who have been with the district since 2012 was $135,591/year. The median for such employees is $134,137/year.
In 2012, the average total pay for these employees was $102,574/year. The median was $105,673/year.
Since 2012, this cohort of employees has had their average total pay increase by $33,107/year (or 32.19%), with CAGR of 4.76%.
This growth rate is 2.15 times greater than the rate of growth for the average county resident (2.21%) during this period.
Median total pay for this group increased with a CAGR of 4.06%.
In 2018, the average total pay for 2039 full-time
certificated employees was $94,058/year. The median for such employees is $97,687/year.
In 2018, the average total pay for the 1367 full-time certificated employees who have been with the district since 2012 was $100,395/year. The median for such employees is $102,637/year.
In 2012, the average total pay for these employees was $75,747/year. The median was $78,872/year.
Since 2012, this cohort of employees has had their average total pay increase by $24,648/year (or 32.54%), with CAGR of 4.81%.
This growth rate is 2.18 times greater than the wage growth for the average county resident during this period.
Median total pay for this group increased with a CAGR of 4.49%.
In the Certificated group, the case is often made that teachers should be paid commensurate with their educational attainment, based on what they would be likely to make with the same education if they were working in private industry.
Comparing SUHSD Certificated employees to the median for county residents with comparable educational attainment, we see that the 2018 SUHSD certificated full-time median total pay (of $97,687/year) is $28,019/year, or 40.22%, higher than the median for comparably educated SD county residents of $69,669/year.
Since passage of prop 30 in 2012, according to the CDE’s “Current Expense of Education” data the average expense per student in Sweetwater Union High has grown from $8,209/ADA in 2012 to $12,181/ADA in 2018. This is an overall increase of 48.38%, with a compound average annual growth rate of 6.80%.
During this same time, inflation has gone up at a rate of 1.50%/year.
Given that the District is not bankrupt (meaning their incoming revenue roughly matches their expense of education), this means the revenue coming in to the district to support their spending has grown at a rate 4.52 times faster than inflation.
However, even with that the district is, as many are, having financial difficulties.
Wage growth at higher rates than average for residents of the area, of course, has budgetary impact.
If the growth in pay had been kept to rates equivalent to
that being given to all other county residents, the growth in this expense
would be significantly lower than actual results.
Looking at just the cohort of employees who have been with the district since 2012 (not the entire employee base of the district, just a sub-set), we see if this group’s total pay growth had matched that of average county resident the net budgetary impact (for this group only) would have been a reduction in annual total pay cost to the district of $26,752,230 per year.
Of course if we assume the employees who have not been with the district since 2012 are also benefiting from the same rate of wage growth, this number would be even higher.
And, also of course, given that pension contributions are
determined as a percentage of pay, higher pay exacerbates the difficulties the
district is having with the growth in pension obligations as well.