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Montebello Teacher’s Association Disputes MUSD Salary Figures

By Brian Hews

A letter sent in by Susanna Contreras-Smith Superintendent of Montebello Unified School District and published online this past Thursday by Hews Media Group has caused a major outcry on social media from members of the Montebello Teachers Association.

As of today, the letter has over 8,000 hits and nearly 1,000 likes on Facebook.

The letter talked about negotiations between the MUSD and the MTA. Contreras-Smith alleged the MTA was using information to mislead the public.

Contreras-Smith also stated that teachers were making an average of $90,000 a year.

Many MTA teachers took angry exception to that statement and began posting their comments online.

In light of the comments, HMG conducted research using 2014 MUSD salary figures posted on Transparent California.com.

The TC salary schedule displayed base salary, other pay, benefits, and total pay for 1,662 MUSD teachers.

The first set of salary figures, which takes into account all teacher’s earnings, including even those making as little as $17 for the year, showed the average MUSD teacher’s salary at $69,136; $83,985 including benefits. That figure included principles of all schools.

Principals average $125,977 regular; $147,571 in total pay and benefits.

The $83,985 figure was almost exactly the same average salary found in a 2014-’15 study done by the California Department of Education School Fiscal Services Division.

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MUSD average ($83, 615 far right) computed by the California Department of Education School Fiscal Services Division.

HMG took the principles out and the average dropped over $2,000 to $81,900.

HMG then eliminated 395 “part-time teachers” out of the salary figures.






Part time teachers are defined as those making less than $44,070 in total pay, which is the first “Step” (Step 1, Class B), on the MUSD salary schedule.

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MUSD salary schedule showing initial full time salary at $44,070 (column 1 under Class B).


The average regular salary, with principals included, jumped to $83,110; $101,405 in total pay and benefits, well above the average of $90,000 claimed by Contreras-Smith.

HMG took the principles out and the average dropped over $2,000 to $81,237; $99,389 in total pay and benefits, once again well above the average of $90,000 claimed by Contreras-Smith.

The numbers also showed that 58% of MUSD teachers (736) are earning over $100,000; 16% (211) are earning over $90,000, with the remaining 26% averaging $71,400.

Some teachers posted on Facebook and emailed HMG-CN to call into question the salary figures on Transparent California.com.

One teacher stated, “I am a teacher with 19 years at this district and currently on column F (of the salary schedule). Now compare that to what Transparent California has me down for, about $90,000. Not sure why it states that. It would be nice. Any extra income is due to tutoring, curriculum development, or attending a meeting after the board day. But even so all of those extra duties do not add up to the ridiculous amount of money it was claimed that we make.”

The teacher added, “and furthermore not all teachers tutor or take on these extra duties and so their salary is basically it. The reason so many of us are infuriated is precisely because we know what we earn. If I earned as much as was stated I would be not signing up for tutoring or attending exhausting meetings to try and make some extra cash. Look into the rate teachers are paid for tutoring. It’s not much. Not enough to push you into that bracket. $70,850 range is my salary; this includes a Masters Degree. If you do not have a Masters Degree you cannot move across the salary schedule. How many teachers in Montebello have a degree higher than a bachelors? How many teachers have moved down far enough on the pay scale to earn that much?”

“We appreciate the fact that you (HMG) have taken the time to respond to many of the comments and that you are looking into this story for factual information.”

Click on image to see PDF of Transparent California salary schedule.

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