Pay a Decent Wage and They Will Come

A Comparison of Teacher Salaries in Solano County

Are Vallejo’s teachers underpaid compared to the other Solano County School Districts?

By Robert Schussel, Ph.D


To determine whether Vallejo teachers’ salaries are lower than surrounding school districts.


Over the past few months VEA members (Vallejo Education Association—the teachers’ union) has been speaking out at the Vallejo School Board meetings protesting their lack of a salary increase since the school district entered bankruptcy about 8 years ago. [A 2.5% raise was recently granted] VEA members are also claiming that they are being paid less than teachers in surrounding school districts.

Over the past year 70 teachers have either retired or gone to other districts offering higher pay. The claim is that the high turnover is bringing in a greater number of new/inexperienced teachers than what other surrounding districts are experiencing.


1) For these analyses the average teacher salary is being used. A variety of metrics are used by VEA such as beginning wage, highest pay earned etc. The problem with these measures is that do not take into account the average tenure of teachers. Two school districts could have the exact same pay structure but differ in how much teachers are paid. For example a district with primarily newer teachers will have a smaller payroll than one with more tenured teachers. Thus the need to calculate average pay which takes tenure into account.

2) The job titles shown on the Vallejo City Unified School District are not always consistent with the salary information sent to the California Department of Education. Small discrepancies exist in trying to compare average teacher salary calculated from the data sent to the state versus average wages reported by the state.

3) The latest average salary data from the California Department of Education is for 2012/13. For the past several years most of the increase in average teacher pay in Solano County has been modest at about 2% or less. For other types of data such as lowest pay, average tenure etc. the latest published data is for 2011/12.


1) Vallejo teacher’s average wage ($57,757) is about 20% lower than the State average ($69,435). In fact on all of the measures reported by Ed-Data , Vallejo is lower. 


 2011/12   VCUSD   

Statewide Average for



Unified School Districts

2012/13 VCUSD State avg 2012/13
Lowest Offered



$37,186  $40,329
BA + 60-Step 10



 na  na
Highest Offered



 $71,305  79,279
Average Paid3





2) Vallejo teachers’ average pay is currently 6% to 19% lower than the other school districts in Solano County.

  % higher average pay compared to VCUSD












3.The difference in average pay does not appear to be due to Vallejo teachers having shorter tenure or being relatively inexperienced (i.e. two years or less of teaching experience). With the exception of Travis Unified and Benicia the other districts (Dixon, Vacaville, and Fairfield) like Vallejo have about 10% of their teaching staff with 2 years or less experience. Comment: This finding seems to contradict claims made by VEA that VCUSD has more inexperienced teachers.

2011/12 Benicia Dixon Travis Vacaville VCUSD Fairfield
Average Years Teaching







Average Years in the District







Percent of First-Year Teachers







Percent of Second-Year Teachers







Pct 1st&2nd yr teachers








4. A lack of pay increases appears to be the primary reason that Vallejo teacher’s average pay is lower than the other school districts in Solano County.  




5. To illustrate what occurred a comparison of Vallejo to Travis School District is shown below to illustrate the differences in salary increases over time.


6. Due to lack of raises Vallejo average teacher pay is currently 6% to 19% lower than other School Districts in the County.


7. From 2008 to 2013 Solano School Districts experienced declines in Teacher FTEs (Full time Equivalence) from 9% to 34%. VCUSD was in the middle with a 17% decline in the number of teacher FTEs.



The data clearly shows that the average pay is lower for teachers at VCUSD than other School Districts in Solano County. The district is at a disadvantage in attracting teachers when the other Solano County School districts offer average wages that are 6% to 19% higher.

VEA has maintained that VCUSD has a lot of inexperienced teachers which hurts learning. While this belief may be true it appears that some of the other districts such as Dixon, Fairfield and Vacaville are also experiencing a similar problem.

Final thoughts

The VCUSD Board need to acknowledge that their teachers have suffered economically since the bankruptcy. Vallejo teachers’ average pay over the past 10 years has only increased by 2% while average teachers’ pay in most of the other Solano County School Districts has increased by 20% or more. Both morale and ability to recruit suffers.

To keep the district viable the board needs to do more than it has to show it values its employees.

Additional monies are being allocated to VCUSD by the state (as Vallejo has many economically disadvantaged students). The board needs to be forthright in how much of these monies can be used for pay raises. As a potential gesture the board should consider using some of their reserves for a one-time bonus. Another step that should be taken is to cut current administrative costs from 11% to the State average of 6%.

There are risks to increasing teacher pay as rising pension costs may create a structural deficit over the next few years. This issue must be addressed, but employee turnover will increase unless the board makes meaningful gestures illustrating that it cares about its employees.

Stay Tuned for our next article: MANAGEMENT PAY

Appendix Average teacher pay from 2002/03 through 2012/13

teachers_wages_10_5_14_appendixCLICK FOR FULL SIZE

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'Pay a Decent Wage and They Will Come' have 7 comments

  1. October 5, 2014 @ 11:04 pm thank you

    Dr. Schussel once again brings disturbing data into laser-ike focus.


  2. October 6, 2014 @ 2:10 pm Salty Dog

    How does a School District allow itself to fall into such a state of uncompetitive county teacher pay rates without all hell breaking loose from both sides?

    Little wonder teachers don’t feel respected/cared for in this District.


    • October 6, 2014 @ 8:16 pm Bong Hit

      Just caught a segment of debate between Robert Honda (D) and his (R) opponent on NPR. The debate should inform the average intelligence voter of the clear choice for this Country going forward. The trouble is, intelligence and a high functioning culture is not the concern of the majority of Californians any more. We are over populated with people who are incapable of caring and feeding themselves. We have become a beggar society.


  3. Wow

    October 7, 2014 @ 7:32 am Wow

    Highest salaries for police; lowest for teachers.

    Says alot about Vallejo.


  4. October 8, 2014 @ 7:41 am Vet

    It would helpful to know the source of the school districts funds for their budget. Logically, other districts pay more because they have more to pay. Do they have a larger income?


  5. October 11, 2014 @ 10:21 am Melissa Bowman

    This is definitely a concern. Although I am a Vallejo resident, I am commuting to Marin where as a first-year certificated teacher there I am earning $13,000 over the “top pay” of an certificated teacher in Vallejo. Even though the commute is long, I haven’t bothered to apply to Vallejo schools.


  6. October 12, 2014 @ 10:54 am worthlessbishop

    “3.The difference in average pay does not appear to be due to Vallejo teachers having shorter tenure or being relatively inexperienced (i.e. two years or less of teaching experience). With the exception of Travis Unified and Benicia the other districts (Dixon, Vacaville, and Fairfield) like Vallejo have about 10% of their teaching staff with 2 years or less experience. Comment: This finding seems to contradict claims made by VEA that VCUSD has more inexperienced teachers.”

    This data is from 2011-12, during the height of the recession when many teachers simply were not resigning from school districts. When a teacher leaves one school district their “tenure” starts over at the new school district. As one who follows VCUSD school board packets & as a former teacher in the district, the mass exodus of teachers began in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school year. The data Dr. Schussel was able to get does not reflect that trend, but I am sure when the sources he looked at catches up to the years I cited, it will clearly show that VCUSD has a higher turn-over rate as well as more inexperienced teachers.

    There is a lot of research out there that shows that one of the best ways to improve academic achievement is through reducing turn-over rates. When this information was shared with various board members over the past few years, it was stated that the teachers leaving would be replaced by better teachers. This is an attitude that is obviously shared by Ramona, who as others have noted, stated quite publicly that she’s quite willing to pack the bags of teachers who are not on board with her vision.

    I’m really, really confused by that vision, which seems to be let’s make our schools as unsafe as possible and scapegoat our teachers & they will come. Why she is still superintendent, quite simply, amazes me. She has absolutely no record of success and very visible track of failure.


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