This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
Two highly desirable results came from the act of 1907. In the first place the districts were able, with the aid of the state, to pay higher salaries. In the second place the higher salary which the districts were required to pay to those holding professional or permanent certificates and certificates of proficiency caused many teachers to seek to meet these conditions. The effect of the law was thus to give the teacher a strong incentive for improving his educational and professional training.96
A further increase of minimum salaries at some indefinite date in the future was provided for in the School Code of 1911. Section 1211 of the Code required the minima to be raised to $55.00 and $45.00, respectively, as soon as the General Assembly should provide the funds necessary for such increases. *97 In 1917 the legislature again took up the question of minimum wages. Teachers were divided into three classes as follows: (1) Those holding provisional certificates; (2) those holding professional or normal school certificates; and (3) those holding permanent certificates or final normal school diplomas. Teachers of the first class must be paid a minimum of $45.00 a month; those of the second class $55.00 a month; and those of the third $60.00 a month.98
As a result of this legislation, the monthly wage of practically all the teachers has been brought up to the minimum rates. Unfortunately however, too many districts seem content to employ teachers who cannot qualify for the higher rating which entitles them to the higher salary scales. In 1914, forty-seven out of the sixty-seven counties in the state reported that the average wage for female teachers was less than fifty dollars, and in two counties the average wage of male teachers was below that figure. *99 In Fulton County, for instance, eight of the twelve districts reported the average wages of women teachers as exactly $40.00 a month. These districts employed 29 of the 41 women teaching within the county.100 This was an especially backward county, but many other counties that did not have large towns within their borders showed but slightly higher wage rates. The facts are obvious: rural districts are unwilling to tax themselves in order to employ first-class teachers.
96 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1908),pp. vi, 111.
97 Act 18 May, 1911, P. L. p. 374.
98 Act 28 July, 1917, P.L. 1235.
99 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1914), Tabular Statement of Counties for the School Year ending July 6, 1914, pp. 612-613.
100 Idem, p. 496.
That the districts which refuse to increase salaries, are actually overburdened by taxation may well be doubted, although irrefutable evidence to substantiate this conclusion is lacking. In 1914 a committee of the State Educational Association published some fragmentary data with reference to the ratios of the assessed to the actual sale values of property taxable for school purposes. In so far as these data are accurate they show that high rates of taxation are to be found in those counties that assess property at much less than its actual selling value.
(mills on the dollar)2
(mills on the dollar)
1 From Pennsylvania State Educational Association's Report on Rural Schools (1914), p. 101.
2 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1914), pp. 612-613.
The table, which represents forty-eight of the sixty-seven counties in the state, shows that in a majority of those counties reporting high average rates of taxation the assessed valuation of property was less than one-half its real or full sale-value. It may be assumed that all tax rates above 10 mills are abnormally high (the average for all the counties, in 1914, was 8.73 mills on the dollar). In eleven counties imposing these rates property was assessed at less than one-half its real value. In five the percentage of real value actually assessed was over fifty, and in two it was exactly that figure.
There was no clear correlation between low assessment, high tax rates, and low salaries for the year 1914 for which the figures are given. Some counties such as Armstrong, Huntingdon, Pike and Sullivan, which had low assessed valuations and high tax rates, paid their teachers very low wages. But in other counties where low assessment and high tax rates prevailed, as in Elk, Forest and Schuylkill the wages were as high or higher than the average for the state. Furthermore, in counties where the assessment was fairly high and the tax rate low, as in York and Adams, wages were below the average.
In so far as the figures warrant any conclusion, we may say that high rates of taxation for school purposes are likely to be accompanied by under-assessment of property. But under-assessment is not always accompanied by low teachers' wages.