JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presented a plan to the state's board of education in early December which would provide teachers a pay raise and target hard-to-fill positions with additional pay incentives.
"It would be about supporting our more than 70,000 teachers in the state at a higher level than we are doing now," said Assistant Commissioner of K-12 Education Paul Katnik. "Every year, the data looks a little more concerning. We have fewer people on campuses studying to be a teacher, we have too many that are leaving our classrooms and that's a bad recipe."
The three-part plan, which was authored by education officials, teachers and education associations, would cost nearly $400 million.
The three steps:
- Boost base salary for teachers from $25,000 to $32,000
- Offer teachers a $4,000 raise and creating a fund to incentivize candidates to take hard-to-fill positions
- Allocate $75 million to recruit teachers to work in high-poverty or rural schools.
Katnik says the motivation behind the funding strategy is to battle one of the biggest enemies of teacher retention, poor salary.
Lyle Best is the superintendent of Osage County R-1 Schools in Chamois and says he is in favor of the proposal.
"Anything that could benefit the rural schools to be on a more even playing field with salaries of some other districts, or to just increase it, would hopefully attract more people," Best said. "Right now, our applicant pool is just very depleted. Sometimes, we don't receive any applications."
The biggest obstacle to the plan, according to state Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, is funding it.
"Every year, there's people that don't get the money that they would like to see," Basye said. "But, I think we've done a pretty good job in Missouri the last couple of years, fully funding the education formula for education."
Transportation, law enforcement and prison resources are other notable priorities that could receive more financial attention in the upcoming legislative session, Basye said.
The Missouri Board of Education is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 9 to discuss the plan.