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Accuracy of posted Park City teacher salaries

Before Christmas we posted an article on Park City teacher salaries. We decided not to post teacher names but still received substantial pushback on the data’s accuracy. Most commenters said that they always found the numbers inflated. Some said that what we published did not match what they received. So, we decided to reach out to the State of Utah for an explanation.

Their response was:

The employee compensation data shown on the Transparency website for Park City School District (and all other entities) is submitted by the individual entity to the website.

The amounts shown for an individual employee is the actual amount paid during the fiscal year which in the case of Park City School district is twelve months ended as of each June 30th (i.e., July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016) [note: the Park Rag numbers were ending June 2015].

This amount also includes the total amount of employee benefits paid by the employer (such as employer paid taxes, health and/or life insurance, retirement benefits, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, etc.) and the various amounts for salaries or wages, leave paid, etc.

Once the entity has been selected on the Transparency website along with the applicable year and then selecting employee compensation, then the names employees can be displayed by selecting the “Name” tab which displays the employees and their position title along with the combined total of employer paid benefits and salaries or wages, etc. To see the detail for each employee, just click on the employee name and then the next panel to the right will show the break down of employee compensation components such as salaries and wages, leave paid (if any), and employer paid benefits.

If a person has a question regarding the employee compensation for a specific employee or the district as a whole, they can contact the school district office.

It appears that:

  • Data comes from the school district (or whatever government entity you work for). So, if you have a beef, contact them.
  • The numbers include dollars you may not see on your paycheck. For instance, you may see a 7.65% FICA tax on your paycheck but your employer is also paying 7.65% (and you may not see that). Likewise, you may see a healthcare expense of $200 but your employer may be paying $800 for you and your family (and you may not see that either).

We do see the employee’s point of view who may say, “but some of that isn’t really a benefit, so it’s unfair to present that as compensation. It paints an inaccurate picture.” There is some truth in that.

That said, from a taxpayer standpoint, many of us want to know what an employee is costing the people. That would include any expense related to an employee’s job, whether the employee sees it in the form of cash or not.

Again, perhaps every number submitted, from every organization, is over-inflated. However, its more likely that there is a substantial amount of cost that the average employee just doesn’t see.

Comments

5 Comments

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Anonymous Teacher

When you posted the original data, this new discussion should be included, especially the break down by data point. I understand that a taxpayer wants to know how much an employee costs. This is critically important, especially when we consider hiring new faculty or spending money in different areas. From a teacher perspective, it is also interesting to consider those extra costs like FICA and so on. However, the original post is misleading journalism; with teacher pay a consistently thorny issue in the district, community, and state, presenting data and not disaggregating the data is not helpful. I know this is a blog – one that I enjoy reading and respect more than the Park Record – but this sort of misinformation is critical when teachers and district officials come to the bargaining table.

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Parkrag

Fair enough. We have updated the original story. We appreciate the suggestion.

In the original story, we attempted to get additional details about the benefit categories (if you drill down on the website, you can see these); however, they were not downloadable. We also didn’t want to provide a direct link that would take someone to an individual’s salary (we felt if someone wanted to find that info they could but we didn’t want to provide an instruction booklet). So, we didn’t go to that level of detail.

I do think accurate information will be important in teacher negotiations. I do think ENTIRE compensation (salary, employee seen benefits, and benefits paid by the employer but maybe not seen) should be a factor in discussion. However, you are absolutely correct that each area of compensation should be put in context and understood.

Anyhow, thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to continue to keep us honest.

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Anonymous

Excellent post. Total compensation for private sector employees is accounted for exactly the same, although most will not receive a pension or health benefits when they retire from their employer. Self employed pay the total FICA tax (7.65 x 2) because they are their own employers.

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Walt

1. Since I started this, sort of, shall we all now agree that the funding for the bus/transit center artwork would only really pay for one teacher?

2. Where is my 6 pack? You blew your recession call (again)!

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Parkrag

1. Yes, we can agree on that. It’s been an interesting dive into the details though.

2. I do owe you that six pack. My only question is should I re-up my bet? I’m a glutton for punishment. One of these years, I’ll be right… 🙂


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