Wisconsin’s teachers make a little more money than they’re letting on

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Wisconsin’s public school teachers and the unions that represent them are saying budget cuts proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker would be devastating — but many of those teachers make more money than they’re letting on.

The Daily Caller has broken out the salaries and benefits of teachers who have publicly entered the debate by commenting to the press.

Wisconsin’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, Leah Lechleiter-Luke of Mauston High School, told CNN the budget changes would force her to look for additional part-time work.

“When people say that public sector employees live high off the hog, I’d like to share that for 13 of my 19-year teaching career I have held a part-time job either in the summer or teaching night class at the local technical college,” Lechleiter-Luke told CNN. “In addition to tightening the belt even more and crossing our fingers that nothing breaks, I will need to find part-time work again.”

Lechleiter-Luke makes $54,928 in base salary and $32,213 in “fringe benefits,” which include health insurance, life insurance and retirement pay.

Brad Lutes and his wife, Heather Lutes, told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz that Walker’s budget would hit them twice as hard.

“Having to explain to an 8- and 10-year old that the governor of your state basically wants to take money away from dad and mom? It’s just really, really frustrating,” Brad Lutes told Schultz.

He makes $49,412 in base salary with $27,987 in fringe benefits and his wife makes $50,240 with $9,413 in benefits. That’s $137,052 annually between the two of them.

WATCH: Brad and Heather Lutes talk to Ed Schultz about how they think Gov. Scott Walker’s plans will hurt them

Jim Nelsen, a teacher at Hamilton High School in Milwaukee who attended the union protests in Madison, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he thought it was “time we had to move and we did.” He earns $62,877 in base salary with an additional $26,492 in benefits.

Julene Flanagan, a fourth-grade teacher at Story Elementary School in Milwaukee, said the reason she attended the protests in Madison was because she cares “about the children deeply” and about the “future of public education in Wisconsin.” Flanagan makes $48,406 in base salary and $37,600 in benefits.

Chris Fons, a social studies teacher at Milwaukee’s Riverside High School, said the union protests in Madison are a “bottom-up” movement, and that the “people have been acting and the leaders are following.” Fons earns $58,976 in annual salary with an additional $25,646 in benefits.

Teachers in the state are only contracted to work part of the year, too. Most teachers start their work year around Aug. 30 and end around June 3, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They also get vacation time during the student breaks, like during Christmas, fall vacation and spring vacation. Year-round, teachers in the state are out of the classroom for about 13 or 14 weeks.

Per the Department of Commerce, in 2009, the average personal income for all Wisconsin workers was $37,398.

Check back for more updates and, if you see teachers quoted in news stories, please send links to matthew@dailycaller.com or tweet them to @mboyle1.

The source for this Wisconsin teacher salary and benefits data is a database on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website that references data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.