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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 4, 2011

The MacIver Institute says average annual salary and benefits for Milwaukee Public Schools teachers tops $100,000

Tea party Republican Rand Paul raised some eyebrows in February 2011 when he said in two national TV interviews that the average public school teacher in Wisconsin "is making $89,000 per year."

But the claim by the U.S. senator from Kentucky, which we ruled to be False, was not as surprising as one made nearly a year earlier by the conservative MacIver Institute.

Speaking about Milwaukee public school teachers, the Madison think tank declared in a March 3, 2010, news release:

"For the first time in history, the average annual compensation for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools system will exceed $100,000" in 2011.

In light of Paul’s comments, which were made during the heat of the nationally watched Wisconsin budget debate, we decided to take a closer look at MacIver’s claim. It has resurfaced in the budget debate in comments on websites such as the Huffington Post and

In announcing the $100,000 figure, the institute produced a video that included brief clips of an MPS administrator reciting salary and fringe benefit numbers during a school board meeting the previous day. The average total compensation figure for teachers exceeded $100,000.

We asked MacIver spokesman Brian Farley if he had any additional evidence. He cited a February 2011 posting from the School Zone blog on, which reported slightly different numbers than those in MacIver’s video.

The posting quoted MPS’ budget manager as saying that in 2011-2012 (the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011), the average MPS teacher would receive total compensation of $101,091 -- $59,500 in salary and $41,591 in benefits.

We double-checked with MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin and she confirmed the figures.

We wanted to compare the $101,091 for MPS teachers to other teachers, but the latest figures compiled by the state Department of Public Instruction are for 2009-2010, two years earlier.

Those figures show for 2009-2010, MPS teachers earned, on average, $56,095 in salary plus $30,202 in benefits, for a total of $86,297.

That was lower than eight other school districts in Milwaukee County, including Greendale, Greenfield, Shorewood, Cudahy, Fox Point, South Milwaukee, Franklin and Nicolet, which was highest at just over $103,000.

Let’s return to the MacIver Institute claim.

The conservative think tank said the average annual compensation for a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher would exceed $100,000 in 2011. As of July 1, 2011, according to the school district, that figure will be $101,091.

MacIver’s claim is True.

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The MacIver Institute says average annual salary and benefits for Milwaukee Public Schools teachers tops $100,000

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