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  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

Understanding Tenure

Before we discuss the salary scale and how teachers are paid, we need to take a closer look at tenure.

Teachers' salaries are paid according to the collective bargaining agreement that is negotiated between the union (West Chester Area Education Association, which is affiliated with both the PSEA and the NEA, we'll cover the union in a future post) and the school district. The most recent agreement covers 2022-2027. However, will we examine teachers' salaries going back to 2012, just like we looked at the budget and test scores over a number of years.

Before we dive in, there are a few things you should know in order to help you understand the salary scale. (The bullet points below are general statements that apply to teachers in Pennsylvania. The bullet points are NOT specific to WCASD teachers.)

  • In Pennsylvania, a newly hired teacher is usually considered to be a Temporary Professional Employee (TPE) until they have earned tenure, at which time they considered to be a permanent employee.

  • In order to achieve tenure, a teacher needs to work for three continuous years, and earn a satisfactory rating during those years of service. Most new teachers are evaluated multiple times per year when non-tenured (depending the school district) but are required by law to be evaluated at least twice a year.

  • Tenure is sought after because it provides job security; most school districts will require teachers to attain tenure.

  • Teachers are encouraged to earn a permanent teaching certificate (which is different from tenure). To do so, a teacher must take 24 post graduate credits (8 college level classes towards a master's degree or PhD). Most school districts will reimburse teachers for their coursework. (The percentage reimbursed will vary from district to district.)

  • Teachers are also required to fulfill continuing education requirements every five years. The requirement can be met by taking 6 college/graduate credits (2 courses), or by taking alternatives courses through an education provider, or by participating in 180 hours of in-service through their school district.

Essentially, teachers are strongly encouraged, and in some cases, required, to continue taking college courses as part of retaining their jobs. This is time consuming and expensive, however, tuition reimbursement in some form is usually part of a teacher's contract. Additionally, teachers are rewarded financially for working their way up the salary scale.

Consider the example below.

  • Notice that a long term sub (LTS) is "stuck" on the salary scale at an annual rate of $49,087, with no opportunity to earn more money, unless or until hired as a teacher.

  • A teacher on Step 1 (first year of teaching) with a bachelor's degree (BS) would earn a starting salary of $51,670.

  • However, a first year teacher who has a master's degree (MS) would earn a starting salary of $58,104.

  • And a first year teacher who had already attained a PhD (DOC) would earn a starting salary of $67,234.

Notice the column marked "Steps to Top", and notice the $89,622 on the bottom row. This means a first year teacher who never takes any more college courses after being hired would would max out in the salary scale in their 15th year of teaching at an annual salary of $89,622.

Of course the salary scale is more complex than the above example, which means that we'll take a closer look at the details in tomorrow's post.


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