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Educators poke holes in Missouri Legislature’s plan to raise teacher salaries


Lawmakers sent a plan to raise teacher salaries to the governor's desk. However, central Missouri educators said the plan is riddled with issues.

Columbia's four democratic representatives sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson asking him to veto a recently passed omnibus education bill. One of the points they made in favor of vetoing the bill is that there is no funding plan for the teacher pay raises outlined in the bill.

The bill outlines the raises: "Beginning in the 2025-26 school year, this act increases the minimum teacher's salary from $25,000 to $40,000. For teachers with a master's degree and at least ten years of experience, this act increases the minimum salary from $33,000 to $46,000 for the 2025-26 school year and further increases such salary by $1,000 each year until the 2027-2028 school year, when the minimum shall be $48,000."

ABC 17 asked the governor's office whether Parson plans to sign the bill, a spokesperson replied saying, "That legislation still needs to go through our office’s bill review process. Once complete, Governor Parson will make his decision."

Columbia Missouri National Education Association President Noelle Gilzow said she doesn't support this bill because of all the other items in it that have the potential to harm public schools.

"It's a way to kind of sidestep the issue," Gilzow said. "And it was all put there just to pass the charter expansion bill, which I think is terrible for Missouri's public schools."

Gilzow said if Missouri really wants to support teachers and compete with surrounding states for quality educators, creating a permanent raise for teachers would be a good start.

"It's not showing any kind of conviction that we need to raise teacher salaries now and moving forward," Gilzow said.

Dr. Terry Robinson, superintendent of Tipton R-6 Schools, said small, rural school districts can't keep up with metropolitan districts as it is, but will struggle greatly to adhere to this new law without state funding.

"Small rural districts are going to be challenged by that, especially if they're operating levees low," Robinsons said. "They're going to actually have to go to their local voters to try to make up that gap if there's no funding mechanism."

The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee is meeting all week to work on the state budget after it passed out of the Missouri House of Representatives earlier this month.

The version of the budget that passed out of the House is $2 billion less than Gov. Mike Parson's proposed budget. One of the items the governor wanted to add to the budget again this year is another raise on the base salary for Missouri teachers. Lawmakers are considering other ways to implement that raise, but will still need the state funds to do so.

The version of the budget that passed out of the House allocated $29 million from general revenue to raise the teacher baseline salary to $40,000. The Senate will comb through the budget, and if changes are added this week both chambers will meet for a conference committee to finalize the budget before sending it to Parson's desk.

The teacher baseline salary grant is a temporary solution that has been added to the budget for the past couple of years. For the past two years, the Missouri legislature has renewed funding for grants to school districts to increase their starting teacher salaries to $38,000.

Gov. Mike Parson made raising starting teacher pay a priority in 2022. The state-matched grant was passed, and over 6,300 teachers across 350 school districts use the grant. The state pays for 70% and school districts must cover the rest, but the state money is not permanent. In 2023, $7 million was approved in the state budget to continue that baseline salary grant.

Missouri still sits at the bottom nationwide when it comes to teacher salaries, even with the raise.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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