Fayette easily tops neighbor Coweta in teacher salaries

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Chart of numbers of employees in the Coweta and Fayette school system grouped by salary ranges. Graphic/The CItizen.
Chart of numbers of employees in the Coweta and Fayette school system grouped by salary ranges. Graphic/The CItizen.
894 Fayette school staffers make more than $70,000 a year, compared to 408 in the Coweta system — 
More Fayette County educators make more money than their Coweta counterparts, especially in the ranges above $80,000 a year, according to figures gathered from the state’s Transparency in Government website, Open.Georgia.gov. The figures are the latest available from Fiscal Year 2018. Figures aren’t complete for this year yet.
Data from the website open.georgia.gov.
Data from the website open.georgia.gov.
The data is noteworthy because Fayette has a smaller system with fewer schools and fewer students. The two counties have long been intertwined through the past half century, with Fayette growing rapidly in the 1980s and ’90s, but with Coweta pulling strongly ahead in population and commercial growth in the past 20 years.
Also of interest is the latest U.S. Census estimate of the median household income in Fayette County as a whole: $84,861. Median means the exact middle: half of all Fayette households are below and half are above the median income. The median household income for Coweta is $67,570.
Topping the school system salary stacks in Fayette and Coweta counties are the superintendents, the most highly paid local government employees in both counties. In Fayette in 2018, taxpayers wrote out checks totalling $273,636.81 to Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow. In Coweta, Superintendent Steven Bruce Barker received $207,240.12 in FY2018, according to the state website. (See reader response to the Fayette County School System budget here.)
Fayette has about 20,115 students in 24 schools, while Coweta has more students — 22,567 — in more schools — 28.
The Citizen tabulated the state’s data for only salaries paid to those making above $30,000 a year in either system, since starting teachers in both systems make well above that. In 2018 in Fayette, “A starting teacher receives a salary of $40,358, along with $22,862 in benefits, for a total budget impact of $63,220,” according to a story in The Citizen June 6, 2018 (thecitizen.com/2018/06/06/record-fayette-school-budget-add-31-new-teachers/). Paraprofessional employees, on the other hand, generally fall into the under-$30,000 a year category.
In the Fayette system, only 643 employees make under $60,000 a year in salary, whereas in Coweta that number is 962 employees for the same salary range.
Those making from $60,000 up to $79,999 were nearly equal: 792 employees in Coweta and 819 in Fayette.
From $80,000 to $99,999 is where Fayette leaves Coweta behind: 356 well-paid employees in Fayette versus 83 in Coweta.
The Fayette system also has more people making six figures than Coweta: 53 above $100,000 in Coweta compared to 86 in Fayette.
The second highest paid Fayette employee is listed as a “deputy/associate/assistant superintendent” at $143,114. The number two person in Coweta in pay is a “deputy superintendent” at $162,765. (Although the state data lists names and salaries, no names are used in this story below the top-paid person in each system.)
The most highly paid school principal in Fayette came in at $125,679, the sixth highest paid person in the system, according to state records. The highest paid principal in the Coweta system came in at $125,963.
The top assistant principal in Fayette makes $110,240 (14 bring in more than $100,000). Coweta doesn’t list an assistant principal position, but it does have a school psychologist who is the sixth highest paid employee in that system at $125,963.
Teachers don’t do that poorly in Fayette, either, with an even dozen making more than $100,000 a year. The highest paid is a grade 9-12 teacher at $119,883, the 12th highest paid person in the entire system. In Coweta, the top paid 9-12 teacher makes $105,990.
One middle/elementary teacher in Fayette tops the six-figure mark at $101,283. In Coweta, the top teacher in grades 1 through 8 brings in $85,657.
Some tidbits in Fayette: One athletics director makes $108,746. One school social worker makes $103,593. One school psychologist makes $103,466. One school counselor makes $100,842. The top paid in-school suspension teacher makes $99,196. Many would wonder whether that’s enough pay to supervise surly kids five days a week.
The Fayette system paid 1,881 other people amounts under $30,000 a year. Coweta paid 1,813 other people under $30,000 a year, according to Open.Georgia.gov.
For comparisons, Newton County has 19,682 students in 23 schools. Rockdale County has 16,561 students in 18 schools.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Occam’s razor seems like the best road to go down on this one.

    If having more experienced teachers who get paid more because they have been here longer teaching our kids – I’m ok with that. I read elsewhere that hundreds of teacher positions are vacant in other Atlanta counties and I’m glad to note we are fully staffed. Perhaps because of loyalty. Perhaps because of experience. Perhaps because of comfort with a better class of kids and a decent attitude from management.

    I’m ok with all that and I’ll gladly pay a few dollars more in taxes to have that advantage.

    Let’s keep that advantage by supporting our teachers. We don’t want to become a second class school system begging for sub-par teachers.

  2. Could the editor please do a little more research on this piece as he completely misses the two of the three primary variables on teacher compensation. He indirectly addresses one of the three, the amount of the county stipend. He completely ignores the other two variables: tenure of teachers and education of teachers. Teachers are paid more the longer they teach and they are paid more the more advanced their degree. Direct comparison of salaries without understanding these variables make any conclusion worthless with the data he provides. Please do the rest of the research – if Fayette teachers have been teaching longer than Coweta teachers and/or have more specialist degrees / doctorates, of course they are paid more. Maybe Coweta doesn’t hire advanced degree staff in order to keep their salaries down? Need more complete reporting please. 2nd school related article in a row that had incomplete research….starting to sense a trend.