R-2 board considers teacher stipend versus 2022-23 salary increase

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 6/8/22

BELLE — New Missouri legislation to increase annual teacher salary pay from $33,000 to $38,000 is expected to be signed by Gov. Mike Parson in mid-June. The Maries County R-2 Board of Education …

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R-2 board considers teacher stipend versus 2022-23 salary increase

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BELLE — New Missouri legislation to increase annual teacher salary pay from $33,000 to $38,000 is expected to be signed by Gov. Mike Parson in mid-June. The Maries County R-2 Board of Education is working to decide how to fund the $5,000 increase for teachers making less than the minimum and compensate teachers who experience a salary compression.

“One of the biggest things in the new legislation is the $38,000 minimum salary for our teachers,” Basham said. “How the district will handle that. I think we should apply for the grant, we just need to do some consideration about what that looks like.”

Basham presented the board with a basic budget to show where they are in the new school year.

“The $38,000 salary is in there,” she told them. “They will cover 70 percent and we will cover 30 percent, plus retirement and benefits if we get the grant.”

Basham said she budgeted for the 30 percent increase.

“The downside is that it really compresses our salary schedule,” she said. “Those who have been here 10 years will make the same as a new teacher. But we anticipate this as a one to two-year opportunity to allow some of our teachers to make more through this grant.”

She asked board members to notice a second column under the salary schedule line item.

“That is the DESE grant column,” Basham said. “It is listed as a grant. My anticipation will be that it is a thirteenth payment. In June, teachers who are in the green amount will get that, almost like a stipend. My concern is giving it to teachers in salary — it inflates their salary, you get used to having it, and then it feels like a pay cut. We will do a thirteen paycheck, under a separate contract if it is passed and signed by the governor.”

Basham said she is also going to try to compensate teachers who aren’t benefiting from the $38,000 legislated.

“It may be a stipend for additional duties or something like a career ladder,” she said. “So those teachers who aren’t receiving an additional stipend, we are going to try and figure out a way to offset that so the compression isn’t as bad.”

Basham said she is hopeful the staff sees it as a new opportunity to get teachers into the district.

“If we don’t do the $38,000 and everyone around us does, we will not get another teacher,” Basham said. “I feel like we are going to have to participate. But I am feeling at most, it will be two years. The governor is leaving in two years and the next governor will have a different priority.”

Basham said they need to be forthright that the increase in pay is not an increase to the teacher’s base salary, just a change in the salary schedule with a grant provided by DESE.

“We are going to go into it as a one-year project,” Basham said. 

Director Amy Kiso said she would recommend that the district does not advertise that funds will be there for more than one year because if it is pulled it would come from the smallest district first.

In addition to filling positions from retired teachers and resignations, the district is also anticipating new paraprofessional and therapist jobs that will need to be filled.

Full transportation reimbursement is also projected in the budget.

“But full transportation reimbursement is only 75 percent of our transportation costs,” she said. “What we are being told by many people is transportation funds are the first thing that gets cut during the year. So maybe anticipate receiving 90 percent of the 75 percent of possible reimbursement and hope we get as much as we can get.”

Butler asked for clarification.

“Within this budget, if we vote to pass it, it will be if the governor signs it,” Butler said. “So we won’t have to do another motion to revise it next month?”

Basham agreed.

Director Kenda Sanders also asked for clarification.

“I am going to repeat this back to you to make sure I understand it,” Sanders began. “So we are going to apply for the grant if it becomes available and the governor signs the bill. We don’t anticipate that grant money will last longer than two years. But because we are not actually adjusting the base salary of our teachers to be $38,000, we are treating it as a stipend, and when that goes away in two years and they aren’t making $38,000 anymore, then what happens?”

Sanders asked what happens in the third year. Basham said they would be back to $33,000 a year unless they have added to the salary base in the meantime.

“Now I asked you guys to increase the base in March knowing that I wanted all of our teachers to get something,” Basham said. “We gave them a nearly six-and-a-half percent raise. Everybody got that, so our teachers have gotten a raise for the year. The grant is what is going to be the difference.”

Basham said the district’s salary schedule will stay the same. If the governor signs the bill, a new schedule will be made next month, but will not be added to the salary schedule.

“When this grant goes away, (all the money goes away as well),” Basham said. “Because we are not saying ‘you’re making $38,000.’ I hope we are communicating enough.”

Basham reiterated an additional contract will cover the grant funds. The salary base will continue to be paid in a 12-month cycle. 

“Now next year when we come back, we will want to add to our base so that everyone gets a raise and it decreases after the second year what the grant would pay us,” Basham said. “The only thing I would say about the grant is it doesn’t allow us to give everyone a raise. It’s not how the funding is set up. Only for those making less than $38,000.”

Basham said they can’t give $5,000 to everyone in the district for those who aren’t eligible to receive grant funds, but a proposal will be available in June to try to give something to those making over $38,000 annually.

Also in Basham’s budget report, the district expects:

• Two percent increase in taxes based on new construction;

• 40 percent increase in diesel/fuel prices (although Basham is worried the estimate may be too low);

• Overall six-and-a-half percent salary increase;

• Projected enrollment increase, which increases expenditures for special education services for an occupational therapist, physical therapists, and one-on-one paraprofessionals;

• Additional staff position;

• Van purchase;

• Building improvements and HVAC project.

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