The average teacher salary in the St. Joseph Public Schools was $57,861 in 2009, and employees are not required to contribute anything to health insurance policies that cost the district some $11,400 annually. These are among the highlights in the current collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the district and the local arm of the Michigan Education Association union.

About 67 percent of the district's $22 million operating budget goes towards paying employees covered by this contract, which covers teachers and a few other employee groups. St. Joseph enrolls about 2,800 students and employs approximately 170 teachers.

The base salary for most St. Joseph teachers is between $49,347 and $71,061. How much an individual actually gets is determined by a single salary schedule that grants automatic pay raises based solely on years on the job plus additional pedagogy credentials. Teachers are granted "tenure" after four years on the job, and once tenured are evaluated once every three years, but neither these evaluations nor the performance of their students affect how much they are paid.

St. Joseph teachers receive small raises for their first five years, but in their sixth year (and after 20 graduate course credit hours) get a 35 percent increase. From years six to ten, they get automatic 2 percent pay raises, and then a 19 percent increase in year 11. Three percent annual increases continue until a teacher's 16th year in the district.

School employees receive a lifetime pension when they retire, and also expect to get lifetime post-retirement health benefits. Based on the state-run retirement system's formula, the starting pension for a St. Joseph teacher with 30 years experience and an average base salary of $71,061 (the final "step" on the salary schedule) would be $31,977. For most retirees, this amount increases by 3 percent every year. An employee may begin collecting a pension upon reaching age of 55, or younger if he or she has 30 years of employment in public schools.

As mentioned, employees are not required to contribute anything to the $950 per month health insurance premiums paid by the district. The district offers three plans to teachers: a basic, PPO and a high-deductible health plan with an attached health savings account. In 2009, the district spent $1.65 million on teacher health insurance.

The union contract includes extra bonus pay for additional duties and certifications. Teachers are paid $500 per semester per child in a class over the contractual class size limit of between 20 and 28 (depending on the grade level). Any secondary teacher who has an extra class assignment gets $11,500. New teacher "mentors" earn about $2,100 over the course of three years. Department leaderships and "vertical steering representation" positions pay $1,100 per year, and teachers also get an extra $4,300 annually for serving as a guidance counselor. Summer school instruction earns another $30 per hour, as does subbing during a preparation period, helping to development curriculum or any other extra duty outside of the contractual school day or year.

Teachers can earn extra cash by coaching or participating in other extracurricular activities, such as band, drama, yearbook, intramurals, student clubs and many others. Aside from one of the 70 different athletic-related positions (which pay between $1,631 and $8,717 annually), there are nearly 30 different extracurricular positions that pay between $881 and $5,499 each year.

All teachers are allotted 12 leave days per year, and can accumulate up to 100 of these. They also get paid leave time for jury duty, conferences and conventions, professional visitation days and for attending board meetings of the Michigan Education Association as a board member. Employees may take unpaid leaves for up to one year for political campaigning for or filling a public office, joining the Peace Corps or Job Corps, child care or maternity, a foreign exchange program or any other approved personal reason. If a teacher accepts a paid position with the MEA union, they get a two-year leave of absence. Upon returning from leave, they are guaranteed the same or equitable teaching position. 

Finally, the union contract also covers working hours and conditions. It defines the "work year" as 175 days, of which a maximum of 167 are student instruction days. Each day measures just over seven hours on the job, which works out to a total work year of 1,313 hours. The national average for all occupations is 1,792.

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.