The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Columbia teacher groups call for increase in employee pay

Columbia Public Schools pays teachers about $1,000 more than the average public school teacher in Missouri, but some teacher groups are still unhappy.

Officials from local teacher groups have asked school board members to close the salary gap between CPS and other similarly sized districts. The district pays its teachers an average of $47,278; the state average is $46,291.

Susan McClintic, president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, said comparable districts are paying much higher rates for their teachers and CPS needs to meet rising standards.

“Salaries aren’t competitive here. They’re not comparable to many other districts of the same size,” she said.

Though CPS has higher pay for its teachers than the Missouri Average, the district compares its size to 12 districts around the state, only one ranked lower in amount of pay — St. Joseph, with an average teacher salary of $43,709. The other districts are, however, all in suburban Kansas City and St. Louis, regions with higher property values and therefore higher taxes.

“I cannot compete with a salary schedule in a suburban area to attract teachers and administrators from that area,” CPS Superintendent Chris Belcher said. “We’ve tried to get really great candidates from Kansas City or St. Louis, and the salary has prohibited them from wanting to make that move.”

Social studies teacher Tim Dickmeyer said the difference in salaries among districts is to be expected. Salaries are subject to the cost of living in an area and places like urban areas have higher costs of living and are more likely to compensate with more pay.

“Local funding of schools leads to inequity of funding potential between districts, and thus any comparison between districts should be undertaken with caution,” Dickmeyer said. “While Columbia may be comparable in size to certain suburban districts in St. Louis or Kansas City, economic distribution should be adequately controlled before attempting to compare an economic unit such as average teacher salary.”

CPS also froze teacher and hourly employee salaries for two years. Dickmeyer said the frozen salary schedule affected teacher morale but wasn’t enough to create any sort of substantial impact.

“No teacher that I know went into the profession to become wealthy,” Dickmeyer said. “Teachers come to expect a cost of living increase based on an established salary schedule. When the district chose not to fulfill the expected progression of the salary schedule, I detected a significant drop in morale from a large number of teachers. [But] I knew very few teachers who left teaching due to the two years of frozen schedules.”

Belcher said making teacher salaries more competitive is one of the goals of CPS’ comprehensive improvement plan, and hopes the district is able to make up for the lost salary steps. However, problems such as overcrowding in classes have more importance and take priority over salaries.

“It’s just a matter of prioritizing things for the sake of our students,” Belcher said. “We need to be sure we can fit all our students in an effective learning environment before thinking about teacher salaries on our shrunken budget.”
By Sami Pathan

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