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Average Arkansas Teacher Salaries Now Rank 45th in the U.S.

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LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas teacher salaries went up 3.2 percent last year, to an average of $54,309.

That ranked Arkansas 45th in the country. However, when the cost of living is factored in, salaries in Arkansas ranked 33rd in the country. It costs more to live in California, New York and other states with higher teacher salaries.

Nationwide, the average teacher salary was $69,544 in 2023. That was a 4.1 percent increase over 2022.

Compared to the other 15 southern states that belong to the Southern Regional Education Board, teacher salaries in Arkansas ranked 12th last year. After adjusting for the cost of living, Arkansas ranked 11th.

Legislative staff presented statistics on teacher salaries to the Senate and House Education Committees during a recent meeting in which lawmakers worked on an adequacy study for next school year.

Adequacy is the term used by Arkansas educators and policy makers to determine funding amounts for public schools, in order to meet the constitutional mandate to provide an education to all children in the state.

Teacher salaries are one of numerous factors studied by legislators before they set school funding levels. Other factors include the number of special education students in a district, the population density within a school district and the cost of operating school buses, how many students live in poverty and whether facilities and equipment need to be upgraded.

The Education Committees explored methods of lessening the pay disparities within Arkansas. The highest average salary in Arkansas was $68,421 in Fayetteville and the lowest average salary of $43,895 was in the Bradford School District in White County.

Generally, larger districts in urban areas pay higher salaries than smaller districts in rural areas. According to legislative researchers, salaries tend to be lower in school districts with high percentages of poor students, which can be measured by the number of free lunches provided.

Also, salaries are lower on average at schools that receive lower letter grades on school report cards.

In broad strokes, the average teacher salary of $49,391 in the lower delta of southeast Arkansas is the lowest in the state. The second lowest average is in a 10-county area in the mountains of north central Arkansas, where the average is $49,935.

Next is a 12-county region in the northeast corner of Arkansas, where the average teacher salary is $50,782. The southwest quadrant of the state had average teacher pay of $50,876 last year.

In eight counties of central Arkansas the average salary was $54,792. In northwest Arkansas and the river valley the average was $55,318.

However, even within a single county there are disparities in pay. Small, rural districts in northwest Arkansas don’t pay as much as schools in Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers, Fort Smith, Ozark, Russellville and Dardanelle. The differences in average salaries can be several thousand dollars a year.

The Education Committee studied salary figures from 2023. The legislature passed the LEARNS Act last year, which set a minimum salary of $50,000. It will dramatically affect teacher salary figures in coming years.

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