Indiana teacher salaries on rise, but averages still fall short of governor’s goal

  • Comments
  • Print
Inside a classroom at an IPS school. (Photo courtesy Alan Petersime for Chalkbeat)

New data shows Indiana’s teacher pay is ticking up—but still trails averages in neighboring states—as the debate over Hoosier educator salaries continues.

The average teacher salary in Indiana is $58,531—up from about $57,000 the year prior—according to the 2022-23 state teacher compensation report by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board.

The lowest teacher salary reported was $38,000. The highest is about $108,000.

More than 31,000 full-time Hoosier teachers earn above the statewide average. Almost 32,000 educators still earn below that margin, per the report.

Currently, Indiana law requires a minimum salary of $40,000 for each full-time teacher. The Indiana State Teachers Association’s (ISTA) county-by-county map of average teacher salaries and starting salaries shows most, but not all, Hoosier districts have raised salary minimums during the previous and current school years.

But representatives from the state’s largest teacher union told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that the latest IEERB report shows “there is still work to be done in achieving the teacher salary goals set by the governor in 2020.”

“It’s evident that other states continue to outpace Indiana in making investments in K-12 education, placing Indiana at a disadvantage,” said ISTA President Keith Gambill, who emphasized in November that the union is additionally continuing to lobby for professional pay benefits and support for parent educators, bus drivers, food service workers and other “vital support staff.”

He said salary concerns are further “amplified” by “weak” school funding in the recent state budget’s second year, “which jeopardizes the progress made in the previous budget cycle.” In response, part of ISTA’s 2024 legislative agenda calls for a $500 million increase to basic tuition support for traditional public schools in the 2025 fiscal year

“ISTA remains committed to attracting and retaining the best educators by being competitive on teacher pay,” Gambill continued. “We will continue to advocate for prioritizing public school funding to ensure what’s best for our students.”

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb—whose 2024 agenda is expected to be released Monday—said previously that he intends to make teacher pay competitive with surrounding states and get Indiana’s average teacher salary up to $60,000. The same increase was recommended by the governor’s 2020 Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission.

Legislation mandating such pay has yet to pass. Instead, Holcomb has said he trusts districts to manage their own budgets and find ways to increase teacher salaries locally.

Republican legislative leaders have repeatedly said they do not intend to re-open the Indiana budget during the 2024 short session—meaning any bills requiring new state funds before the next budget cycle are unlikely to advance.

Even so, a new bill filed by Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, seeks to increase teacher minimum salaries to $60,000.

House Bill 1037 would require school corporations that cannot meet the requirement to submit a report to the Indiana Department of Education explaining why they cannot meet the pay threshold.

“Teachers need to know that they’re valued and appreciated. It’s essential that teacher pay reflects the hard work and dedication of our educators. We’re experiencing a nationwide teacher shortage, so we need to encourage people to come into our profession,” said Klinker, a retired teacher. “Raising the minimum salary to a competitive pay is the start of recruiting new educators. … We must encourage people to join—and stay—in our profession.”

The latest salary data

The IEERB has issued its Collective Bargaining Report each year since 2013. All Hoosier school corporations and employers that bargain with an exclusive representative organization are required to complete the survey.

Of the 305 entities that submitted data for the latest analysis, 289 were traditional public schools, 10 were special education cooperatives, and six were career centers.

Total salary costs for all teachers across Indiana totaled more than $3.6 billion. At least 291 school corporations use federal grants and 31 use property tax referendums to support teacher salaries.

Indiana law additionally tasks the IEERB with collecting teacher salary averages from surrounding states, including Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky. Data from Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky were not yet available and left out of the report, however.

Although Wisconsin and Ohio reported teacher salary minimums at $35,000—$3,000 lower than Indiana—educators in both states average higher annual pay than their Hoosier counterparts.

Salary statistics for Wisconsin indicate an average teacher salary of $61,858. In Ohio, the average is $71,495.

Indiana’s district-level administrators also average lower annual salaries than in neighboring states.

Administrators in Indiana average $113,746 per year, according to the IEERB report, while those in Wisconsin average $153,111, and $130,372 in Ohio.

Even when adjusted for cost of living, salaries for Indiana’s teachers are below that of educators in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Indiana superintendents, meanwhile, averaged $ 136,961 in 2022-23. Superintendent salary comparisons for other states were not included in the report.

Indiana’s average teacher salary is ranked 39th in the United States by the National Education Association. The state’s average teacher starting salary is ranked 29th.

More educators in the pipeline

Though K-12 enrollment in Hoosier school decreased by 2,605 students in 2022-23, the Indiana teacher workforce grew by more than 200 educators, according to the report.

The total number of full-time teachers in the state increased to 62,882—up from 62,673 in 2021-22, and 62,393 in 2019-20.

The number of teacher candidates enrolled in Indiana colleges and universities that offer teacher credentialing programs increased to 11,824 in 2021-22, latest school year data available. That’s an increase from 10,972 would-be educators in 2018-2019.

More than 3,600 first-year, full-time educators were hired during the 2022-23 school year. Another 1,415 teachers retired.

Fewer teachers are being retained, however. According to the IEERB survey data, 55,227 teachers were retained in 2022-23 from the previous year. That’s compared to 55,682 the year before, and 56,999 in 2020-21.

The number of district-level administrators also dropped to 806 in the 2022-23 school year, 138 fewer than the year prior.

Multiple initiatives spearheaded by Indiana lawmakers and state education officials are currently underway to boost teacher numbers. That includes scholarships and multiple other incentive programs meant to recruit and retain students in education preparation programs.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

7 thoughts on “Indiana teacher salaries on rise, but averages still fall short of governor’s goal

  1. The quickest and easiest way to solve the staffing issues most school districts are facing would be to double teacher salaries. Heck, might even reduce the influence of the teachers union at the same time.

    And they’d still be underpaid.

    1. Holcomb the Establishment Hack is treading a fine line. His ambitions are not as easy to pull off politically when skepticism toward public education is sky-high, combined with astronomical growth rates in homeschooling (as a reaction to this skepticism), not to mention a growing sophistication in homeschool networks, where various parents collaborate and teach a small group of kids based on subjects of their individual expertise.

      It’s kind of like pretending that “Sesame Street” is still good wholesome programming. The flurry of school board hearings showing educators and administrators teaching the modern-day version of Confederate Lost Cause Theory (also known as Critical Race Theory)–let alone trying to explain felching and hot karl to fourth graders–and it’s obvious that unipartyists like Holcomb are relying on a political model that collapsed close to 10 years ago for leverage…and the diminishing quotient of folks relying on the legacy media for news who buy into these campaigns.

      Then again, those dumb homeschoolers and folks pushing back against wokecults need to shut up and stay in their lane. Don’t they understand that this is just in their own best interest? A dEmOcRaCy depends on a uniformly educated sOcIeTy. Sorry wokies, we aren’t a democracy (Jeanne Shaheen got checked on that the other day), and, as for society, perhaps the best thing is to challenge Margaret Thatcher’s notorious allegation.

  2. Just imagine how much we could augment our Indiana public school teacher salaries if we stopped with the “School Choice” silliness (i.e., “let’s disregard public accountability, anti-discrimination laws, federal special needs laws and the Establishment Clause while using taxpayer money to fund it all” scheme)

    1. Totally! I mean, “choice”–what sort of barbarism are these people looking for? We all know who the authorities should be.

      I was skeptical of vouchers as recently as five years ago–not just because it diverted taxpayer money away from public schools, but because the recipients of these vouchers were often moderate income kids living in good districts who simply fit the income threshold…so they’d use vouchers to be moved from districts performing above the state average to funnel more money to places like Brebeuf or Sycamore School.

      But looking at the state of public education today, it’s hard not to think that they only way they will reform themselves is if they feel a world of hurt. And that means slicing away at their budgets when they consistently refuse to depoliticize the classroom. I recognize that most teachers are doing their jobs without subversion and that the saucer-plate glasses fatgirls bragging on Tiktok about turning their students trans are an extreme minority. But they do keep cropping up, suggesting that schools are hesitate to fire these awful creatures…or that the basic hiring standards have plummeted. (Sadly, in many cases, the principals are just as corrupt and are deliberately hiring these cultists.) But to think that higher salaries will bringing a higher caliber of people into the profession is delusional. Cultural Revolutionists in the classroom were unheard of 15 years ago, and teacher salaries were lower then than they are today. If teachers are allowed (or even encouraged) to violate the conditions that brought about licensure and accreditation, no amount of money is going to salve the lesion.

      If we’re going to give public school teachers generous pay raises, can we at least request that they keep their hair dye to colors that occur in nature (you know, “grown-up” hair colors) and refrain from getting neck tattoos?

  3. I wish these comparisons among state “averages” would be adjusted for cost of living. It’s meaningless to compare just the IN average salaries with those in states like CA.

    1. Point well taken and you’re absolutely correct, but even I can acknowledge that the peer states mentioned here are generally comparable to Indiana: WI and KY and OH. If these bills can correlate pay raises for mid-career teachers (which is where Indiana lags the most) with merit and performance and positive student/parent feedback, there may be a strong claim to boosting Indiana’s teacher salaries up with Midwest states where the cost of living is comparable.

      But it goes without saying that, if Holcomb is listening to teachers’ union activists like ISTA (the same entities responsible for pushing back against teacher accountability metrics and in politicizing the classroom), this is something that public school skeptics should monitor closely. It doesn’t take a good sniffer to spot a corrupt activist teacher; they’re usually more than happy to signal their ideological goals through hair color, piercings/tats, classroom wall decorations, problem glasses, and insufferable Tiktok videos.

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In