Metro Atlanta Teacher Salary Analysis


Last August the Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (Metro RESA) conducted a Teacher Salary analysis for the 2016-2017 school year. At the time, DeKalb teachers were the “The Worst Paid Teachers Around
In January 2017, the DeKalb Board of Education approved a 2% raise for school based employees to make the school district more competitive relative to other metro area districts.

In the immortal words of Wayne Grezky, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” DeKalb Schools seems to be skating to where the puck has been.

School Budgets
This May, Gov Deal signed a budget in which he intends teachers to receive a 2% raise. Jen Talaber Ryan, the governor’s spokeswoman, said “It is the governor’s sincere hope that school boards pass this raise along to classroom teachers as intended by both he and the General Assembly.”
While most school districts haven’t passed budgets yet, it looks like DeKalb will not be passing that along to teacher salaries. DeKalb Schools’ Tentative FY2018 Budget includes increases in retirement premiums, health insurance premiums, textbooks and special ed.
Cobb is batting around a 1% raise for teachers as well as a full step increase which will total about 1.5%. Atlanta Public Schools’ budget includes a 1.5% raise for teachers. Gwinnett County and Fulton county schools have proposed a 2 percent increase.

Metro Atlanta Teacher Salary Analysis
Including the 2% raise DeKalb teachers received this past January and not including anticipated raises in the upcoming school year … here is where teachers stand right now. DeKalb’s average rank in teacher pay is 4th out of 6 metro Atlanta school districts. On average, DeKalb’s teachers are currently at least getting paid better than Gwinnett and Clayton teachers. Note: This scale isn’t adjusted for the differences in school district supplemental retirement plans.

T4 = (Bachelors) Clear Renewable Professional Certificate
T5 = (Masters) Clear Renewable Professional Certificate
T6 = (Specialist) Clear Renewable Professional Certificate
T7 = (Doctorate) Clear Renewable Professional Certificate

Budget and Board Meeting 5/15
May 17, 2017 – The proposed budget has increased over 20% in the last two years to 1.01 billion for the FY2018 General Fund. School board also discusses adding more standardized testing, Lead Higher Initiative and the Five-Year Facilities Plan.

DeKalb Schools Estimated Budget
May 12, 2017 – In April, the DeKalb Schools administration presented a 2-page estimated FY2018 budget for the upcoming 2017 – 2018 school year.

DeKalb Teachers

DeKalb – The Worst Paid Teachers Around
December 13, 2016 – Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (Metro RESA) has conducted a Teacher Salary analysis for the 2016-2017 school year. DeKalb Schools has the worst paid teachers in the Atlanta Metro area.

39 responses to “Metro Atlanta Teacher Salary Analysis

  1. The increase for special education is needed.
    How about increasing pay for substitute teachers so the district doesn’t have thousands of unfilled teacher vacancies? That is one way to put more money into the classroom, get teachers in front of students more consistently.

  2. Dear Stan,
    I posted this is another topic on the blog When I saw this one, I copied and pasted it here. I know the budget process is not over, but perhaps you have the answer for some parts of it.
    I appreciate the time and effort you take to provide information. I know that the budget process is very important.
    I understand that at this point it does not look like there will be a raise for teachers. Will there be any raises for para professionals, food services workers, custodians or bus drivers? These are some of the lowest paid individuals in many school systems. These jobs are essential to the operation of the schools.
    As part of the budget process, are the number of jobs in various categories discussed?
    Is there any limit on the number of county level administrative positions? I know that every school system needs administrative positions. This year there seems to have been new administrative jobs created. Also 3 jobs were changed from Director to Executive Director, which also required a salary increase. And aren’t their still job openings for the HCM Chief Officer, Region I Superintendent, Region I Coordinator and the Head of Police?
    Since we are planning for a new school year, will individuals be hired for these jobs? In light of the decision to remove principals at certain schools, it seems like putting permanent people in place in the Region Offices would be an important step in supporting our principals.

  3. Stan Jester

    It’s still early in the budgeting process, but there are currently no raises for any employees in the current budget. Number of jobs … good question. I know the central office is bursting at the seams, but since 2014 the district has added over 1,000 school house employees. The number of central office positions should be dictated by the org chart. Then again, that doesn’t include funds outside the general fund which is half the budget and doesn’t include contractors. I have no idea what the urgency is on filling those central office jobs you mentioned.

  4. Barbara Fountain

    sent via Facebook
    I remember too many years where news was teacher raises and it went in a general fund never reaching the teachers’s paycheck. Simply don’t trust the administration….

  5. SteveSchultz

    sent via Facebook
    We need to stop giving across the board raises. Dont get me wrong many teachers are severely under paid but many are in their final year riding out the clock making over 70k teaching kindergarten…do they really need to be paid more?

  6. Stan Jester

    Good question Steve. Are more experienced teachers better teachers? Experience and education level are the only measurement we use in determining a teacher’s salary benefit. At what level of experience and education do we get the biggest ROI?

  7. Barbara Fountain

    There are many teaching big salaries and are so dumb they don’t know the difference between a beetle and an ant. Kindergarten teacher did this. Para tried to correct her but she wouldn’t hear of it, same thing she said! It happened in DeKalb school.

  8. Steve Schultz

    So think of 5 teachers at your local school and write down a salary of what you think they would be worth . Then go to and see what their salary really is and remember that they only work 190 days a year…you will most likely be shocked at how much money they really do make.

  9. Steve Schultz

    sent via Facebook
    I just looked up two teachers salaries at Evansdale. A teacher has been there 7 years and one 20 plus years. The 7 year teacher is kicking ass everyday and the 20 year one is on glide waiting to retire…the 20 year teacher makes 20k more a year. Sad.
    OMG and now I just looked up the worst teacher my daughter had in her 5 years at Evansdale and she made over $90k in 2016. She couldnt get a job at McDonalds

  10. Ingrid Gero

    sent via Facebook
    You have no idea how offended I am by some of these comments. I am a product of DeKalb Schools. I have taught for 23.5 years. I am not sitting here on my bum waiting for retirement. If you want to see one of the best investments in a child’s future? Go watch Kathy Kundmueller at DES. She was at Kingsley for years. You don’t get any better… And she teaches kindergarten.

  11. Kevin Shallow

    sent via Facebook
    I love reading comments about teacher salaries from people that wouldn’t last one week as a teacher. I find it funny, but not offensive. I get it that you just don’t get it. You can’t run schools like a business. Teachers collaborate, share and work for the best interest of their students. Pit us against each other and run it like a business, and you

  12. Ingrid Gero

    Let’s be honest. The problem is so much bigger than the county level. It is a societal problem. If you want the best and the brightest in the classroom, you have to raise the standards at the college level, then promise a competitive wage, that DOES compare to other professionals. What WILL happen if you continue to treat teachers like hourly employees is that they will STOP putting in the time and the effort after school and on the weekends.

  13. Stan Jester

    1. How do you raise the standards for disparate institutions across the state/country? The engineering program at Georgia Tech is different than the engineering program at UGA … or any other program.
    2. Would raising the standards decrease the number of people that finish?

  14. Barbara Fountain

    Ingrid my comments weren’t directed at teachers such as you. But these new teachers are not the quality teachers hired in DeKalb back in 1972 when I was hired. There are many wonderful teachers in the system but I am sure you are aware of the teachers hired in the last decade. Many as yourself are leaving and leaving a void!

  15. Ingrid Gero

    I’m trying to stay as long as possible! I am lucky to love my job most days… But there has to be incentive to stay, and a lot of people don’t see an advantage.

  16. Eric Nuetzel

    sent via Facebook
    Amazing to me the number of educators that don’t understand simple economics.

  17. Ingrid Gero

    Please explain

  18. Have any of you who think teachers are overpaid or do not have to meet high standards to get their degrees and certification actually received certification to teach or taught in the past three years? The process is lengthy and difficult today in our state. When they are hired, they are not compensated and respected for their professional knowledge and work. There are a bunch of people in DCSD wing paid to figure out how to attract and retain good teachers. It’s not rocket science. Higher salaries and allowing teachers to be paid on their actual experience instead of their previously frozen level would be the best place to invest. We lose teachers who can leave and be put on their correct level in the pay scale. Then they come back to Dekalb on their correct pay level. Those who stay are at least seven years behind those who leave and come back. Kirk is right about substitute pay, also. Use the money for teachers, not tests.

  19. Laura Marlow

    sent via Facebook
    Ms. Gero, you were a WONDERFUL teacher to my son, he (and I) loved your energy and spirit! Can’t say that about all the teachers he had in DeKalb…not even close. But you were such a breath of fresh air and we will remember you always.

  20. Kevin Shallow

    sent via Facebook
    I agree with so many of these comments…
    1. Everyone knows one bad teacher, so let’s change the entire structure of how teachers are paid.
    2. Why should teaching be the only profession that requires a bachelor’s degree, continued education, a master’s degree or two, and yet you have to wait 30 years to make $70,000?
    3. Teachers only work 190 days, not to mention that it’s the only profession of similar educational requirements that offers no paid vacation days, involuntary layoff in the summer, and 10 sick days per year…if you are willing to wake up at 5:00AM to write lesson plans with a 101 degree fever so that your students can have a meaningful day at school. Otherwise just take two Motrin and drag yourself into work.
    4. It’s easy to teach 30 kids in a confined space for 7 hours per day, keep those students engaged and learning, while keeping 60 parents happy, one or two supervisors happy and also find time to collaborate with 6 to 10 other adults in the school each day.
    5. Most families have no parent or sibling conflicts, so why can’t these teachers make 30 kids play nice every day.
    6. Education should be run just like business. Make teachers compete against each other, give teachers a big raise if kids do good on the test, give them a pay cut if teachers care more about their students and learning then they do about the test. And let’s start for profit schools!
    7. And finally, let’s elect a bunch of Republican legislators, because they are the true experts about education and they will know how to fix these problems.

  21. Lisa Carlysle

    sent via Facebook
    I thought Deal was putting a raise into the budget for teachers? There are a lot of variables in teaching. Class size and levels. Some classes can be worse than others year to year. But I agree there are dead beat teachers out there.

  22. Nancy Jester

    When a school district can’t even get 65% of their budget into the classroom, the compensation structure will never be good. The school district has too much overhead. The overhead often creates more burdens on the teachers. If the school district were managed effectively, 80% of the budget could make it into the classroom and the pockets of teachers. The evaluating of teachers is tricky. One set of criteria doesn’t apply to all. Given how the DeKalb bureaucracy operates, I don’t believe a meaningful evaluation tool could be created. I do believe that making smaller districts would help this problem. It is harder to hide the staffers that shouldn’t be there. With a huge system, there are lots of opportunities to warehouse people. And DeKalb has a large number of vacancies. It’s a terrible cycle. DeKalb needs to figure out how to get out of this cycle. It starts with changing the budget. If you don’t even get 65% into the classroom, you are making a statement on what you think is important. You invest in the productive areas (teachers) and you minimize the overhead (central office) – until we do that, we are going to keep lamenting this issue.

  23. Stan Jester

    Thus far, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like DeKalb Schools will be passing along the increase in funding to teacher salaries like we were supposed to. What’s really sad is I can’t even get 3 other board members to go along with me on increasing teacher salaries. DeKalb Schools’ Tentative FY2018 Budget includes increases in retirement premiums, health insurance premiums, textbooks and special ed. among other things.

  24. Angela Maki

    We’ve been fortunate to have had many great teachers at Hawthorne, Henderson, and Lakeside. We’ve also missed out on some wonderful teachers, whose reputations preceded them, because they either transferred to so-called “better” schools within DeKalb, moved to another higher-paying system, were snatched up by a private school, or retired earlier than expected. We must attract and keep great teachers in the system and weed out the ineffective ones. Accomplishing this requires a competitive compensation package and better teacher evaluation systems.

  25. Rouchelle Longley

    I do believe that teachers should receive performance pay. However, this will take MASSIVE restructuring to implement properly. Takes me back to my earlier points on another one of Stan’s Blogs “just because a teacher works on a high performing school with good results doesn’t make them a great teacher; and vice versa!” There will need to be a process in place to measure the growth of each student. Not a % compared to others, but where that student started. But, who are we fooling? We can’t even fire the horrible teachers that do exist. And yes they do! Unfortunately they give all the wonderful, fabulous and terrific teachers a bad rap! So I say, let’s start there. Let’s fire all the awful teachers. Better yet, lets fire those awful administrators that let them get away with it day in and day out!!

  26. Kirk Lunde

    sent via Facebook
    Nancy, how many school districts in Georgia spend more than 66% of their budget in the classroom. I heard, unofficially, from a GaDOE employee that “only a handful” of districts actually meet the 65% mark.

  27. Nancy Jester

    Kirk, I don’t know. But I spoke to the superintendent of one. His district spent well above that mark and he thought 65% was too low. But your question illustrates the problem. What value does the DOE add? There is no rule or metric they have that is enforced or produces consequences of any kind for the administrators that run the whole thing. Why even have that rule? They clearly aren’t serious about it. Georgia is an outlier in that all they do is subsidize failure and hold no one accountable. The check still goes to the district no matter the outcomes.

  28. Mr. Jester,
    I am a strong supporter of special education. Do you know how the increased funds for special education will be utilized? Is this money that will be used in the schools for direct services for students?
    I hope that the school district will truly and honestly evaluate the services that our special needs students are getting. Someone needs to look at the schools as well as the centers.

  29. Stan Jester

    The special ed money is really a shift from federal dollars to local dollars. The .pdf link icon FY2018 DCSD Proposed Budget will itemize at a high level how the dollars are spent.

  30. Stan, can you please tell us who the three board members are who refuse to raise teacher salaries?

  31. Stan Jester

    I’m the only one. We only need four board members to raise teacher salaries. Let me know if anybody knows of any other board members that will demand teacher salaries go up.

  32. Mr. Jester,
    If DeKalb Schools isn’t willing to pass along the 2% raise from Governor Deal’s budget, will they at least consider giving teachers a step increase? Teachers haven’t received a step increase since, I believe, 2008. Every year a step is added to the salary schedule for teachers, so when they are placed on the next step, the salary is actually equivalent to the previous year. At some point, teachers have to be given their step increases instead of being required to work more than 30 years to reach the top of the pay scale (teachers used to reach the top of the pay scale after 25 years).

  33. Stan Jester

    It could be done if people talked to their board members. I will push for it on my end. Here are the challenges.
    1. School based employees received a 2% increase in January. Since it was January, only have of that annualized amount was appropriated. We will have to include the full amount in this budget … that’s an additional $10 million.
    2. The state is mandating the district pay an additional $14 million over what it payed last year to the pension plan.
    3. State health insurance premiums are up $2 million.
    On the other hand, we had the worst paid teachers in the Metro Atlanta area before the 2% raise. After the 2% DeKalb Schools is 4th out of 6. If we don’t give the teachers anything, I’m confident we’ll be back to 6th out of 6.

  34. Eric Green

    Why is it, if a Paraprofessional has a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree, their salary is not based on that. Also, why is the years of service of a Paraprofessional, divided by 2.For example, if you have 10 years of credible service, according to the scale that DeKalb HR uses, you get credit for just 5 years. How is that right or justified? What can be done to change that?

  35. Fact Checker (anonymous)

    Stan, using copyrighted images like the drawing you’ve inserted at the top of this page from, presumably, The Simpsons or Matt Groening, is against the law unless permission has been expressly granted. Have you been granted that permission?

  36. Stan Jester

    Eric, parapros usually aren’t certified teachers and aren’t paid in accordance with the salary schedule. If enough of the public and/or parapros voice their concerns, that would send a message to the board and administration. You could also talk to HR types at the school district to get some insight.

  37. Stan,
    Thanks for answering our questions. The questions remain however, is it right, fair or legal for Paraprofessionals years of service to be cut in half, and have their salary based on that scale, instead of all of their years of service? Who voted for this? You do not get straight answers when talking with HR. Concerned citizens of this county that care about the students in this county as well as the staff members that work on a daily basis in this county, are forming a grass roots committee to look into the irregularities, mismanagement and overall lack of leadership in the central office and the schools. How many other positions have their years of service cut in half? We want Dekalb County School District to be one of the best in the State. The hiring of family and friends over qualified candidates should stop. We want our schools back and we are watching, listening, documenting and reporting all misdeeds. We can understand Governor’s Deal concern about all of the failing schools in this county. Shameful!!!

  38. Stan Jester

    Human Resources/Capital Management – DeKalb Schools has had 3 people in 2 years as head of HR. That is an indicator of the state of affairs in that department.
    Grass Roots Committee – Interesting. Tell me more about this grass roots committee to look into the irregularities, mismanagement and overall lack of leadership in the central office and the schools.
    Friends and Family – Can you give me any examples over the last two years where the school district has hired Friends and Family over qualified candidates. Dr. Green has brought in some team members from Kansas City, but I’m not aware of other candidates that were more qualified.
    Paraprofessional Salaries Is it fair or moral … that’s in the eye of the beholder. Is it legal? I’m not aware of any laws that it breaks. It’s the administration’s budget that the board of education votes on.

  39. Stan,
    We would like to know why is it so difficult to find a high performing professional to head the HCM Dept? Who are the top 3 people in that department? Out of the 9 reassigned principal positions, have any of those positions been filled? Where are the 9 reassigned principals reassigned to?
    What’s going to be done about the out of control discipline problems in these schools? We have been told their are 5th graders being promoted to the 6th grade that can’t read? Is there a website that we can refer to? What exactly does Regional Superintendents do? How do they support the failing schools? Whose monitoring them? When is the last time school board members have been inside any of the failing schools? We want the facts Stan.