Situations appear to be different in different areas of the country. In several districts in Florida (possibly all of Florida) a master's degree in your field is highly encouraged for HS level and it will come with a substantial bump in pay. In my high school we had quite a few PHDs teaching courses (sadly no nobel prize winners). No degrees in education are required, but a teaching certificate is.
I THINK they're starting to slide retirement plans towards glorified 401Ks and the health insurance plan is absurdly expensive if you want to cover anyone other than yourself.
As for pay scale - it's certainly a livable wage, but nothing comparable to what a person with a master's could be earning in another field.