Friday, December 03, 2004


A nimble reader calculated the average salary of an Omaha Public Schools employee (full-time equivalent, certificated) and came up with $42,232.

That’s a good deal higher than the statewide average of $39,635. The difference is attributed to the increased cost of living in the urban metropolis of Omaha, vs. the rural character of most of the Cornhusker State, and also the ease of obtaining a master’s degree in the state’s largest city, which hikes one’s salary, too.

Just as Omaha teachers make more than their country cousins, the relatively low cost of living in Nebraska, and the relatively small number of urban school districts here, are major factors in Nebraska’s teacher-pay ranking of 36th in the nation. Using econometrics which factor those in, the actual ranking would be much, much higher.

But that’s not the whole story. Using data from the district’s 2004-05 budget, the nimble reader came up with a cost of the OPS fringe benefits package in excess of $15,000 per staffer.

Adding salary and perks, that’s an average of more than $57,000 for a 180-day contract per staff member in Nebraska’s largest district. And it has a lot of staff members, indeed: 3,679.67 are listed in this year’s budget report.

That brings up another factoid: divide the OPS student enrollment of 46,035 students by that staff, and you wind up with a student-to-staff ratio of 12.51.

Think back to when you rode your dinosaur to school. How many kids per teacher were there then? Maybe 25? More?

Not only that, but The Council of the Great City Schools (www.cgcs.org), representing some 60 big districts, including OPS, lists an average student-to-staff ratio of 17:1 for the most-recent school year listed, 2001-02.

More money . . . better bennies . . . smaller class sizes . . . now, what was that the teachers’ union was whining about, again?

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