Study: Teachers' Salaries Better Than Normal

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Teachers'salaries in Nevada grew at one of slowest rates in the nation during the 2001-2002 school year, but their wages still earned a place above the national average, according to a report by the American Federation of Teachers.

The report released Friday shows Nevada ranked 15th in the nation in teacher pay. The national average was $44,367, while Nevada reported an average of $44,621. Nevada showed a 0.9 percent increase from the year before.

The report also found the state's average first-year teacher salary was $28,734, below the national average of $30,719.

Clark County, the nation's sixth-largest public school district, hires between 1,500 and 2,000 new teachers each year.

"In the past few years, we've cut out about 50 job fairs,"said George Ann Rice, Clark County's associate superintendent of human resources."We can't sit next to competitors who are offering thousands of dollars more than we are. What we try to do now is get to the colleges before the job fairs take place."

California had the highest starting salary at $54,348 and South Dakota had the lowest at $31,383.

The report found the average salary for the nation's teachers continues to fall below that of other occupations. While teachers averaged annual wages of $44,367 in 2002, midlevel accountants were making $54,503, computer system analysts earned $74,534 and engineers made $76,298.

"We can't afford to ignore and lose experienced teachers, whose salaries are not showing much improvement,"said Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers.