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Kansas City Public Schools district working to increase teachers pay

KCPS hopes to compete with area districts
KCPS Teachers
Posted at 8:48 PM, Apr 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-10 21:48:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Monday, Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II called on Gov. Mike Parson to boost teacher pay in the Show Me State.

Cleaver asked Parson to use some of the state's budget surplus to increase pay for teachers in Missouri.

It’s something voters in Lee's Summit are being proactive about.

Last week, voters approved a proposal to move 20 cents from the district's debt services fund, to the school district's general operating fund, while not increasing the overall tax rate.

All of this is to attract more teachers to work in Missouri, which ranks in the bottom five for average teacher pay in the nation, according to multiple surveys.

This is something the Missouri State Teachers Association says is imperative to keep teachers working in the state.

Todd Fuller, a spokesperson with the Missouri State Teachers Association, says the average salary for teachers in Missouri is around $32,000.

However, in the Kansas City area, teachers average a starting pay of $38,000, while other area districts start pay at $40,000.

“Almost all the districts in the KC metro are above that $38,000, but you move out 30 minutes away from KC, and there are several school districts where that would make a significant difference in keeping teachers,” Fuller said.

Fuller says some teachers have left Missouri due to competitive salaries in other states.

“We've had members that left Missouri to go teach in neighboring school districts,” Fuller said. “So, we've had members that left to go teach in Kansas, we've had members that left to go teach in Arkansas.”

In March, the Kansas City Public Schools district increased teachers' pay by a couple of thousand dollars.

“The board approved an increase in teachers' starting pay from approximately $43,000 to $46,650," said Charnissa Holliday-Scott, interim chief of staff for KCPS. "That was through a negotiation and work and collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers."

Holliday-Scott says increasing pay is the first step in being competitive with other districts in the area.

“There are school districts that may have bonds to reallocate dollars," Holliday-Scott said. "So for example, a school district may have a bond that allows them to pay for capital projects so that they can reallocate their operation dollars into high teacher salaries — Kansas City Public Schools doesn’t have that luxury."

Fuller says that increasing pay for both newer and more experienced teachers is important.

“We need to pay attention to teachers that have been in the district for five to 10 years, and we need to start thinking about what we can do to support and retain our experienced teachers,” Fuller said.

As chief of staff for KCPS, Holliday-Scott says the district is aware of a national teacher shortage, and is working to stay competitive in other ways than just increasing pay.

She said the district is also focusing on ensuring benefits meet the needs of teachers.

“We know that you are not going to be paid completely what you are worth, we would love to pay you more, but we want those people who are passionate about what they do, who are committed about teaching,” Holliday-Scott said.

On Tuesday, April 11, KCPS is holding a budget workshop at Paseo Academy at 5:30 p.m.

It's open to the community and will discuss teachers pay and other priorities that matter most to families.