Losing teachers to other states with higher salaries is nothing new in Montana, but the drain of teachers is increasingly happening right over its border with Wyoming. That state has been pumping money into its education system over the past few years ever since a federal tax on minerals helped to boost its economy. From 2005 to 2007, Wyoming increased its education spending by 30 percent and now spends $14,000 per pupil, a sure sight better than Montana?s $5,000 per pupil.
Understandably, Montana teachers are finding it hard to resist the higher salaries in a neighboring state that offers the same lifestyle. Melissa Rocchio is one teacher who has made the move after she was offered a fifth-grade teaching position in Gillette, Wyoming with starting pay at $43,500, at least $10,000 more than what she could get in Montana. Another teacher was able to find better pay as a half-time teacher in Wyoming than as a full-time teacher in Montana.
A higher salary is not the only benefit to Montana teachers of changing states. Wyoming has been building so many spanking new schools it can't find enough construction crews. The Big Sky surroundings aren't lost either. As one transplanted school administrator said, "the only difference is that the wind [does not] blow quite as much" in Wyoming.