is in the upper echelon of every educational performance category.
They also nearly top another list: How much the district pays its teachers.
Solon Schools has an average teacher salary of $80,400, the second-highest of the state's 610 public school districts, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Education.
The average teacher salary in the state is about $54,000, and ranges between $81,534 at Orange City Schools and $32,894 in the Southern Local School District.
SOLON OFFICIALS EXPLAIN RANKING
Solon School district officials say salaries in Solon reflect the district and the community's commitment to excellent education for students. Solon has one of the , consistently ranking at the top or near the top of Ohio's performance standards.
This year, Solon's performance index was 110.7, the fourth best in the state. The score was higher than last year's, when Solon had the best score in the state.
"That performance index is everything," Superintendent Joe Regano said. "The state changed the education system from merely providing education to a competition, and as a result the compensation of the highest-performing districts has moved to the top."
School officials pointed to a number of reasons for the salary average, including:
- Solon students excel, and a big reason for that is quality teachers. Besides meeting the state benchmarks, Solon students also rank high in SAT and , attend and regularly .
- Because Solon hires excellent teachers, the district competes with a number of the area's high-performing schools to hire the best educators they can find. These competitors – including Orange, Beachwood, Mayfield and others – are also some of the highest-paying districts. "This year it's Orange, Solon, Beachwood," Regano said. "Next year it could be Beachwood, Orange, Solon."
- Teachers receive more pay as they increase their education by obtaining advanced degrees. According to state data, more than 85 percent of Solon's teachers have a master's degree. That's one of the highest levels in the state.
"Solon is a community that cares deeply for education," said District Spokeswoman Tamara Strom. "I think everyone really understand how deep that commitment runs and the expectations that go along with it."
STEPS TAKEN TO CONTROL PAYROLL COSTS
This summer, the school administration and teachers' association agreed to a more austere that will help the district better control payroll costs.
That contract freezes pay for all teachers, lowers starting pay for rookie teachers by 6.75 percent and also reduces the maximum salary by 2.8 percent.
Regano said the school district also eliminated its 24 highest salaries by offering a retirement incentive to those teachers.
During the last three-year teacher contract, Solon teachers received raises of 2.75 percent in the 2008-2009 school year, 3.15 percent in 2009-2010 and 3.6 percent in 2010-2011, according to the Solon Times.
TEACHER SALARY PER SCHOOL
The state data also breaks down average salaries by individual school:
- (26 teachers, 19 years): $86,887
- (23 teachers, 18 years): $85,731
- (48 teachers, 17 years): $82,179
- (49 teachers, 17 years): $81,117
- (33 teachers, 15 years exp.): $80,060
- (27 teachers, 15 years): $78,793
- (106 teachers, 14 years): $77,209
TOP 10 HIGHEST AVERAGE TEACHER SALARIES STATEWIDESCHOOL DISTRICT AVERAGE TEACHER SALARY Orange $81,534 Solon $80,400 Beachwood $80,203 Brecksville-Broadview Heights $78,868 Mayfield $77,006 Cuyahoga Heights $75,261 Upper Arlington $74,874 Worthington $74,737 Bexley $74,633 Indian Hill $74,457