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Teacher pay researchers find error; Duval County even lower than reported

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An updated to a study comparing teachers' career earnings in the nation's 125 largest school districts shows that Duval County actually ranks 108th in teachers' lifetime earnings instead of 98th as originally reported.

The error in the National Council on Teacher Quality "Smart Money" study of teacher pay placed Duval County Public Schools 10 spots higher than it should have been, said Nancy Waymack, NCTQ's managing director of district policy.

The group made an "important miscalculation in adjusting for cost-of-living differences among school districts," she wrote in emails to WJCT and WJXT.

"The result is that, for districts where the cost-of-living is unusually high, their numbers changed impacting the rankings," the email stated.

The error also impacted findings on the length of time it takes teachers to reach peak earnings. Originally, the study reported that it would take 24 years for a Duval County teacher to go from a starting salary of $39,000 to nearly $70,000, after adjusting for cost of living.

The revised report, released over the weekend, shows it would actually take a teacher in Duval more than 30 years to reach peak earnings.

The revised study also shifts around the rankings of other Florida districts, including Broward County, which originally ranked below Duval County. It now ranks slightly above Duval in 107th place. Brevard County also falls down to 115th place. Lee County ranks 110 out of 115.

Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Polk, and Orange counties still all rank above Duval, but the report now shows Hillsborough in 66th place--slightly lower than its originally reported ranking in 59th place.

And while the revised report shows an average Hillsborough teacher can earn about $300,000 more over his or her lifetime than a Duval County teacher, both districts take about the same amount of time to reach a peak salary of $70,000 a year.

Last week, in response to the initial figures, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the district needs to look toward a more progressive approach to teacher payment.

He said he hopes to work with the teachers union to develop a salary schedule that allows beginning teachers to make more money, faster through a performance-based payment model.

The district is still in negotiations with the union over teacher salary schedules for the year. Vitti said he is hoping to reach an agreement by January.