The cost of a good education: Are teachers overpaid or worth every penny?

Rickeena Richards:

When times get tough, teachers’ salaries are the last thing school districts should cut, local educators say.
“If you’re going to recruit and maintain the best, then you have to provide that environment. That includes compensation to some degree that supports that,” Belleville District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman said. “We’re going to hire the best of the best and create an environment that supports them while they’re here.”
Educators argue that quality instruction comes at a cost, but that cost is an investment in the community’s future since teachers are responsible for preparing our young people for the future. They said school districts look at several factors to determine that cost when hiring teachers, all the while trying to remain competitive with neighboring districts’ offers.
But critics say that school administrators sometimes throw more money at teachers than necessary.
For example, figures obtained by the News-Democrat for nine local school districts that signed new teachers contracts this summer show:
* A Belleville District 118 social studies teacher makes almost $80,000 a year.
* An O’Fallon District 203 family and consumer sciences teacher makes more than $100,000.
* A Granite City gym teacher makes $86,000.
* An East St. Louis first-grade teacher makes nearly $76,000 this school year.