11 School Districts With the Highest Starting Salaries

Where a new teacher’s paycheck will go the furthest.

School Districts With the Highest Starting Salaries

No matter how wonderful your teaching job is, that paycheck every two weeks is important. Not to mention, there’s how much you make—and then there’s how far it goes. We created a list of districts with the highest starting teacher salaries. To create our list, we looked at the districts with the highest starting salaries and aligned them with state’s the cost of living. (The cost of living index is calculated with an average score of 100, any score lower than 100 means that it is cheaper than average to live in that area. Higher than 100 and its more expensive than average to live in that area.)

These districts will give you the most bang for your buck as a new teacher.

1. Southwest Independent School District, San Antonio, TX

Starting salary: $50,452

Cost of living index: 93.2

Image credit: www.ritani.com

Southwest Independent is a smaller district (by Texas standards) with a personable superintendent and competitive teacher salaries.

2. Brentwood School District, Brentwood, MO

Starting salary: $49,380

Cost of living index: 100.3

Image credit: www.archcityhome.com

Teach in a district where half of the K–12 schools are award winning.

3. Laramie County School District, Cheyenne, WY

Starting salary: $48,132

Cost of living index: 99.6

Close to Denver (1 hour and 40 minutes away), this high-paying district also has two notable US News and World Report award-winning schools in Central High School and East High School.

4. Springdale Public Schools, Springdale, AR

Starting salary: $45,820

Cost of living index: 85.2

Image credit: www.townmapsusa.com

Springdale is a fast-growing community in northwest Arkansas that showed support for their teachers with a pay bump in 2017.

5. Warren Consolidated Schools, Warren, MI

Starting salary: $45,398

Cost of living index: 87

Image credit: www.alucobondusa.com

Located in the northeast Detroit suburbs (think: drivable to the Great Lakes and Ontario), this district has 13 Blue Ribbon schools and two schools with a targeted focus, one on career prep and another on STEM.

6. The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Starting salary: $45,360

Cost of living index: 99.5

Image credit: www.eagledrives.com

Philadelphia’s starting teacher salary is in the top 10 percent in the country. The district is all urban and has had its ups and downs, but it’s committed to making it work, starting with teacher pay.

7. Evanston/Skokie School District, Evanston and Skokie, IL

Starting salary: $44,900

Cost of living index: 130

Image credit: www.youchicago.com

Evanston/Skokie (District 65), a suburban district just a few “L” stops away from Chicago, has salaries $8,000 above the Illinois average. That’s in addition to diversity in terms of students and campuses—work at Park School, an innovative school for students with special needs, or one of the district’s K–8 campuses.

8. Woodford County Public Schools, Versailles, KY

Starting salary: $44,600

Cost of living index: 103

Image credit: www.paulickreport.com

Travel along the Bourbon Trail to get to work every day in this district in the middle of horse country. Chinese language courses and orchestra are incorporated into schools across the district, which is in an area full of beautiful rolling hills and farms.

9. St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, Covington, LA

Starting salary: $44,284

Cost of living index: 102.3

Image credit: www.stradallc.com

On Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany is the North Shore of New Orleans. The schools rank high, and teacher pay is $6,000 higher than the state average.

10. West Des Moines Community Schools, West Des Moines, IA

Starting salary: $43,437

Cost of living index: 95.5

Photo by Ryan Donnell

This equation works out: The cost of living is low, and the starting salary for West Des Moines teachers is above average.

11. Bismark Public Schools, Bismark, ND

Starting salary: $42,605

Cost of living index: 116.6

Image credit: www.city-data.com

The state is in the midst of a modern-day oil boom, so you’ll join an already-bustling school district that’s constantly growing.

Did we miss a district with high starting salaries? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. 

Plus, school districts that need teachers.

11 School Districts With the Highest Starting Salaries

Posted by Samantha Cleaver

Samantha Cleaver, PhD, has taught everything from kindergarten to 8th grade special education. She loves to write about her favorite thing to do, read!


  1. Rachel Livingston August 24, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Hi, Samantha.
    I’m curious as to how this data was compiled. I live and work in one of the districts on your list, and I’m aware that we are one of the top ten districts in the state but know that we are not THE top paying district in the state. How did a district that is around 5th-7th (ish) (possibly higher) in the state make this list?

  2. Hi,

    I would also like to know besides the starting salary, how are salaries increasing with time. Some districts may have excellent starting salaries but teachers are making virtually the same amount 10-20 years later…

    Thank you

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