NIKI KELLY and ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Most seem to agree that Indiana teachers don't get paid enough.

But the disconnect comes in where the blame lies. Is the legislature not providing enough money? Or are school districts spending too much on administration and too little on teacher salaries?

As lawmakers near finalizing a two-year budget that will fund school salaries, The Journal Gazette reviewed collective bargaining agreements for all 33 school districts in northeast Indiana for the 2017-18 school year, the most recent data available online for all schools.

The reports showed a wide range of full-time teacher pay between $32,834 in Central Noble Community Schools to $78,000 in Warsaw Community Schools.

None were at a minimum starting salary of $40,000 suggested this session by Democrats, but a few were close.

All but four gave base salary raises that year and some also gave one-time stipends.

“They need to own up to the fact that they have underfunded Indiana's children,” said Phil Downs, superintendent at Southwest Allen County Schools.

He said since the legislature took over most property taxes and full responsibility for teacher salaries in 2009, the state general fund budget has grown 21 percent; inflation by 17 percent and education spending by 12 percent.

Downs said it's on lawmakers to give more and schools will follow through crafting the best salaries for the area.

“What looks good in South Whitley and Larwill and Pierceton might not look so good in Fort Wayne or Indianapolis,” Whitko Community Schools Superintendent Brandon Penrod said. “It's best left for the local level.”

Salary is a top reason for teacher shortages – here and nationally.

According to the National Education Association's website, Indiana teacher pay ranges from $24,000 to $90,000, with the average being $54,308.
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