Wisconsin public school teachers made, on average, $55,985 in salary during the 2017–18 school year with an average of 14.2 students per teacher. During that school year, spending was $13,670 per student in local, state and federal funding. This means that about $195,392 is spent on the average classroom in the state. Of that, only about 28.4% ends up in the pockets of teachers. Where is the rest of the money going?
An illuminating answer comes from investigating the share of district staff who are teachers relative to those in other roles. We can use data from DPI’s “All Staff” files over the past decade to tease this out. The chart below shows the percentage of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff in the 10 largest districts in the state that are identified as teachers by the Department of Public Instruction since 2008. The majority of districts fall below the 50% threshold in every year — meaning that for every teacher in the district, there is more than one employee in another role.
The biggest offenders in recent years are Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Racine. Both of these districts have dropped below the 40% level in recent years for several consecutive years. In fact, WILL’s 2019 Truth in Spending study found, “The percentage of money a district spends on [administration and transportation costs] relative to others is associated with lower performance on state exams.”