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Columbia Public Schools will increase teacher salaries

The Columbia Board of Education has approved a base pay increase of about 5 percent for all employees starting next school year.

The starting salary for teachers will rise from $36,000 to $37,500.

“We are working very hard to get salaries up to a competitive level with our other school districts,” CPS board member Jonathan Sessions said. “We’re still in the bottom third of our comparison districts, but we’re in the top of that bottom third.”

He said comparison districts, such as Jefferson City Public Schools, are similar in size, tax base and student population to Columbia Public Schools.

The minimum base salary in the 2018-19 school year for teachers with similar student population sizes to Columbia was $39,647, according to a report from the Missouri State Teacher’s Association.

“We continue to lag behind districts of our comparable size so we still think there’s room to grow in order for us to be more competitive,” said Columbia MNEA President Kathy Steinhoff.

She said CPS salaries become more competitive for teachers with more education or who have worked at the district longer.

“It’s important that we can make sure that we keep those teachers for those first years because that’s when they can get to those higher salaries,” Steinhoff said.

The district condensed its salary schedule to make it easier to understand and allow teachers to get more fairly compensated, Sessions said.

“You start with Columbia Public Schools early in your career and you continue to work down,” he said. “You are retiring at $70,000.”

Hourly workers including custodians, maintenance employees and lunch workers might notice next scholl year’s pay boost the most.

“A small increase at a smaller pay rate is a larger percentage increase,” Sessions said.

Most CPS employees make close to or more than $12 an hour, he said, and the district’s goal is to reach $15 an hour.

The pay increases will result in an additional expense to the district’s operating budget of $5,718,302 and increases to $6,610,657 when benefit costs are added, according to CPS documents.

The cost was planned for in the 2019-20 operating budget.

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