QUINCY -- The average salary paid to Quincy School District teachers is near the bottom of the pay scale for many Illinois communities of similar size.
A Herald-Whig review of salaries listed on Illinois School Report Cards for the 2015-16 school year -- the latest figures available -- shows Quincy teachers earned an average of $44,780 a year.
That figure is below many other cities with larger and smaller populations. For example, Quincy's average teacher salary lagged behind Rock Island's salary by nearly $22,000, even though Rock Island's 2010 population of 39,018 was slightly lower than Quincy's population of 40,633.
Granite City, with a population of 29,849, had an average teacher salary of $64,075 in 2015-16, while Bloomington, with 76,610 residents, had an average of $61,192.
Decatur, with 76,122 residents, came in behind Quincy, with an average teacher salary of $43,881.
The teacher salaries listed on the report cards do not reflect any benefits paid to teachers, including extra stipends, bonuses or board-paid contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System, said Jackie Matthews, director of media and external communications for the Illinois State Board of Education, which puts out the report cards.
The Illinois School Report Card's website notes that the annual salaries listed for public school teachers "varies greatly depending on location, years of experience, level of education, and financial resources of the district."
The average varies a lot even within the same counties. In Adams County, for example, Quincy's average teacher salary was higher than the salaries paid in Payson ($34,801), Mendon ($40,823) and Liberty ($40,883), but it trailed the $46,882 paid to teachers in Camp Point.
A spokesman in the Camp Point district's business office, who didn't want to be identified, noted that Camp Point has many teachers with extended years of teaching service and additional education, which tends to drive up the average salary.
Salary figures for the Quincy School District have not changed since the 2015-16 school year ended because the Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel have not signed a contract for this year and are threatening to go on strike later this month. Wages are one of the key stumbling blocks at the bargaining table.
Even though the average teacher salary in Quincy came in at $44,780 last year, which was below the state average of $63,450, some Quincy educators earned significantly more than the average.
The district's “annual statement of affairs” for the fiscal year ending June 30, published in The Herald-Whig's Nov. 30 edition, showed that 36 certified employees — most of them teachers but also some administrators — earned between $60,000 and $69,999. In addition, 17 certified employees earned between $70,000 and $79,999, and 20 earned between $80,000 and $89,999.
An additional 11 employees, nearly all of them administrators, earned more than $90,000.
Jen Drew, a spokesman for the union, said Quincy teacher salaries have lagged behind many other like-sized communities for years. She feels it's important for Quincy to try to stay competitive with other school districts that offer higher salaries.
Drew said seven new teachers planning to come to Quincy this school year "quit before they even came because they got hired in other districts for quite a bit more money."
Drew said paying competitive salaries will help Quincy not only attract new teachers, but also retain good teachers who are already here.