VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI)-- With the start of school right around the corner, teacher pay is a hot topic in the state of Indiana. In fact, according to a recent Forbes study, Indiana ranks last in teacher salary raises over the last 15 years. It's a problem being felt locally as well.
Vigo County ranks below state averages for both starting teacher salary and average teacher salary. Vigo County School Corporation's teacher salaries are funded through the state. This funding is on a per-student basis. School officials say Vigo County's population is shrinking, which is causing a trickle-down effect.
Because the county is shrinking, there are fewer students. Because there are fewer students, there is less funding from the state to go toward paying teachers more. All of this has caused a teacher shortage for Vigo County.
"We are doing a lot of things internally to try to fight this teacher shortage," Director of Communications for Vigo County School Corporation Bill Riley said, "We can deal with it with long term substitute teachers or merging some classes together--but that affects our students' education."
The school corporation is looking to expand their search of teachers from just local universities to colleges all across the midwest. For example, Vigo County needed five secondary math teachers this past year. Indiana State University only graduated seven of those teachers, and they can find higher starting salaries in neighboring districts.
Teachers in Indiana have had the lowest salary increases in the country since 2002. This has caused over 60% of teachers to take second jobs just to make ends meet. According to State Representative and current math teacher at Terre Haute North High School Tony Pfaff, this shouldn't be the case.
"That's why it's so important to study this issue and give appropriate compensation to teachers," Pfaff said, "Teaching is a passion--You shouldn't have to take a second job to do the one that you love."
School officials at Vigo County School Corporation told News10 that they are constantly evaluating ways to have more competitive wages for their teachers.