According to data released by the state Department of Education this month and compiled by the Sacramento Bee, teachers in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District are the highest paid in the state.
"We have the best teachers in the state and they deserve to be paid well," said Superintendent Barry Groves.
The Bee's report, which examined districts with more than 100 teachers, said MVLA pays an average of $95,365 a year, with the lowest earning $61,184 and the highest $115,616.
"We value our beginning teachers," Groves said in regards to the starting salary, adding that they are an "investment."
He said one reason for the high pay scale is that the district attracts and retains experienced teachers.
According to 2008-09 data from Ed Data, a collaborative Web site that analyzes data provided by the state, MVLA teachers averaged 11.2 years of teaching experience and 9.3 years with the district. Twenty-three of the district's 193 teachers, or about 12 percent, were first or second year teachers.
But when compared to county and state figures, it appears that in terms of teacher experience and longevity with a district, MVLA is only comparable, rather than noticeably higher.
Joe White, associate superintendent of business, said another factor is the cost of living in the area.
"When you put a blanket across the state or various parts of Northern California it makes it look like, 'Wow there's a huge difference,'" White said. "But there's a huge cost of living here." He added that many employees, including himself, commute from other areas to work in the district.
For Superintendent Groves, the chief issue was teacher quality.
"I believe that MVLA has a cadre of professional, highly qualified teachers in every academic discipline," Groves wrote in an e-mail. "As we have high standards for achieving tenure in our district, we believe that our teaching staff is second to none. Our students and their families profit by this incredible group of professionals."
According to the state data, teachers in the Mountain View Whisman School District make an average of $61,147 annually. The lowest pay offered in that district is $44,609, while the highest is $82,315.
In the Los Altos School District, teachers earn between $44,832 and $86,924, with an average salary of $73,569.