As outlined in our post How Much Do School District Employees Really Make? it’s vital for parents to know how their education dollars are being spent, and given 80 to 90% of that spending is on employee salaries and benefits, knowing what portion of those dollars are being given to district employees is a key part of that.
One of the founders of this group – Todd Maddison – is the director of research for the public watchdog site Transparent California, which specializes in collecting and publishing compensation data for over 2500 public agencies annually, including almost all of California’s public school districts. Transparent California contains 38 million public employee compensation records, and growing daily.
The data published is obtained directly from the school districts’ own pay records, obtained via legal public records requests. If you would like to see what your local district actually pays its people, you can see that by looking up your district.
As a quick summary as of this update (12/3/22), in 2021 in San Diego County the median total compensation of an administrative employee was $177,396, and the median total compensation of a full-time certificated employee (generally a teacher, but includes some others) was $124,734. [Note that these totals may change as more data is acquired, see links below for latest summaries.]
“Total compensation” includes both “paycheck compensation” and “non-paycheck compensation”.
For a full description of what each type of compensation means you should read How Much Do School District Employees Really Make?, but a quick summary is that paycheck compensation is “money you get in your check” and non-paycheck compensation is money that is paid by the organization you work for for benefits you get.
Non-paycheck compensation is included because it is significant in public agencies – often several times higher than non-paycheck compensation of individuals in private industry.
For example, in private industry a standard “match” to a 401K (retirement) plan is 4.4% of employee pay. This means the employer gives the employee an amount equal to that percentage of the employee pay, deposited into their retirement account periodically.
In public agencies, including schools, the total “match” amount in 2021 was 17.23%. As we said, “significantly higher”.
For private employees, imagine what it would be worth to you to have your employer put an additional amount equal to 17% of your salary into your retirement account – without you having to pay for it – every year. Would you not count that as compensation?
Typically that additional compensation toward retirement, if it were put into a private 401K with normal returns over 30 years, would be worth close to $2 million after a 30 year career. Any public employee that feels “that shouldn’t count” is welcome to write a check as a donation to San Diego Schools for $2 million…. (!)
For more on the value of benefits in the education system, read the Transparent California article on “How Much are California K-12 Employees Really Paid – Benefits”
To get a true picture of current compensation rates, we periodically put together summaries of compensation by labor group – administration, certificated, and classified. These summaries will be updated as new data is put into the system, here are some links for you. This data is for the latest year available.
San Diego County only:
Superintendents Only – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vchbKVdEq45H5chpt1Jcm6gVcwOeF-X1/view?usp=drive_link
Superintendent only – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1A6wsbVpal5Q7GPdU5j74lHGF1y3zewaG/view?usp=drive_link
A folder with source data for this analysis is available at: