Last year's increase in Kansas teacher salaries is not as great as recent reports indicate, a spokesman for the Kansas-National Education Assn. said today.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education reported that average teacher salaries in Kansas had risen by 11 percent from 1988 to 1989.
But according to Kay Coles, director of communications at K-NEA, the 1989 figure is misleading because it represents the first year in which the state included fringe benefits in teacher salaries.
Coles said Kansas' reported jump from 32nd to 27th in the nation in terms of teacher salaries also must be put into perspective because of the inclusion of fringe benefits.
"The figures that were quoted weren't inaccurate. They just need a little extra explanation," she said.
K-NEA examined the figures after several teachers called the organization and said the reported salary increase was definitely more than they'd received, Coles said.
According to Dale Dennis, assistant commissioner for finance at the Kansas State Department of Education, the average state salary in 1989 including fringe benefits jumped 5.5 percent from the previous year to $27,378. That figure was $2,189 below the national average salary of $29,567.
Dennis said the National Education Assn. requested last year that all states include fringe benefits in their salary calculations to provide a better comparison among states. Hence, the national average salary reported for 1989 probably reflects fringe benefits as well.
Still, Dennis said, the reported jump in Kansas' national ranking could be deceptive because "we traditionally have had more fringe benefits than other states."
Average salary plus benefits for teachers in the Lawrence school district was $28,722 in 1989. That's $1,344 above the state average and $845 below the national average.