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'This raise is real and it impacts our kids': KCPS teacher on salary increases

Posted at 9:52 PM, Mar 26, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than a thousand Kansas City, Mo., Public School District employees will receive a pay increase in the next school year.

In a non-bargaining year, KCPS educators and the teacher's union, American Federation of Teachers, negotiated a raise.

The starting teacher salary will increase from $46,650 to $48,150.

Everyone along the KCPS salary scale will receive a raise and no one already employed by district will receive less than an a $2,000 increase, according to Jason Roberts, ATF KC Teachers Federation President.

"This raise reflects our commitment to valuing teacher's contributions and also providing them with a competitive salary,” said KCPS Superintendent Jennifer Collier.

One teacher says news of the raises gave his co-workers a jolt.

“It’s really just boosted morale around our school and for me personally,” said Chris Steinauer, Whittier Elementary School educator.

Steinauer’s days are spent with students.

He said the pay raises were a pleasant surprise.

“So much of teaching is a mental game,” he said. “You have to last eight hours and you’re trying to bring your best to every moment of those eight hours. There are plenty of us who are stressed about bills, house projects and when can I go on my next vacation. That quality of life improvement that we are seeing through this raise is real and it impacts our kids.”

The raises serve another purpose.

“We’re going to have to do something if we are going to remain competitive,” said Roberts. “To think back just a few years ago that KCPS was the middle of the pack. We’ve never been at the top of teacher pay.”

Roberts says the $4.7 million investment by KCPS keeps them at the top.

“That’s money people can feel,” he said.

While other districts may be supporting teacher pay through property taxes, KCPS did this through their general budget fund.

“Every district has to do what it can to retain because when those teachers leave, the likelihood you’ll fill that vacancy is less now than it was five years ago" Roberts said. "We've kind of have flipped. We used to 'recruit and retain,' but it’s now 'retain and recruit,” Roberts said.

The raise also help the district retain its quality teachers.

“Having those veteran teachers stay longer, the new excited teachers stay longer, " Roberts said. "It's stability, and you want stability in any workplace, especially where our children are,” Steinauer said. “It makes you feel like you have a lot of dignity, and you have the respect of your employer.”