The Best Paid Teachers in the State


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by Dr. Larry Murray…….

There has been a lot of interest lately in government and quasi-government entities and the number of employees paid six figure salaries. FKAA has aroused particular attention for the number of employees paid over $100,000. Amidst all of this, no one has mentioned the School District. I suspect that MCSD has more personnel drawing six figure salaries than any of its competitors.

In late August, the School District decided that it was time to reward with raises its 54 top professional and administrative employees who are not part of the UTM bargaining unit. See the following list.


A cursory assessment identifies 14 individuals, 25% of the cohort, who are paid in excess of $100,000. The top of the heap are Patrick Lefere, Executive Director of Operations and Planning, and Theresa Axford, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, with salaries of $122,000. Nor far behind is another group of 14, or 25%, who make over $90,000 and will soon join the elite in the $100,000 plus bracket.

The above figures are raw salary dollars. They do not include the entire compensation package. MCSD pays benefits of over 30% of straight salary. Using that as the standard, anyone making over $77,000 in salary actually receives over $100,000 in total compensation. This would add another 11 individuals, another 20% of the overall group. That brings us to 70%, the percentage of administrators flirting with or exceeding the $100,000 threshold.

I think that it is quite evident that if you wish to make $100,000 either in salary or total compensation, the School District is the employer of choice.

While the focus has been on the six figure crowd, let us not overlook the teaching staff of nearly 600. Board Chairman John Dick recently announced the achievement of his major goal. Teachers in Monroe County are once again the highest paid in the state. This comes after plunging to number 3 during the recent housing bubble and the decline in property tax revenue that pays teacher salaries.

It is often said that you get what you pay for. If the teachers in our community are the best paid, does that mean that MCSD will be the best district in the state regardless of measurement? For example, will Monroe students score the highest, individually and collectively, on the Florida Standards Assessment? Will we have a higher percentage of students than any other county taking Advanced Placement classes and scoring higher than the statewide competition?

Whether we are talking about administrators or teachers, does high pay result in higher production? Are we, the taxpayers, getting what we pay for?

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3 thoughts on “The Best Paid Teachers in the State

  1. You must first take a look at the cost of living at where they work. KW is very likely the most expensive town to live. So it is logic to expect higher wages. And yes was taught as a kid that you get what you pay for. The highest wages do not mean highest quality. You simply attract more workers based on location. Not all would enjoy KW but some do. Look at what a nice home of 3 bed 2 bath of lets say 1600 to 2000 sq ft will cost and the taxes and insurance. Add to that the high cost of repairs, food, clothing and they need far more. Until you get your Walmart there is no cheap store. Usually the pay rate is what it takes to attract them. 100 k does seem bit high but what are you comparing it to. Apples and oranges ?

  2. Do you ask rhetorical questions because you didn’t analyze the research that exists on topics such as this? Do you ask rhetorical questions because you don’t have a solid argument as to why educators shouldn’t be paid what they are worth, even if that means paying top dollar? Do you ask rhetorical questions because you might have a Ph.D. but don’t really understand what you are talking about?

  3. Larry et al, I think there is one other factor that is being overlooked with regard to attracting and paying professional help in KW. If you are looking for teachers in any urban area you have a better chance of finding such simply because you are not asking people to uproot themselves and move to another area. This is not the case for KW. Anyone who decides to teach here has to also decide to move. This can eliminate a lot of possible employees. This also might have the effect of making such a hire more expensive. Just a thought, Jerome

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