The 5 Q's: Joplin School Board candidates (Part 4)

Mar. 16—Nationally, school districts have been grappling with a shortage of teachers and other school staff, like bus drivers. How would you propose to address this issue in Joplin?

Marda Schroeder: To address the teacher and staffing issue, I would propose a plan to research and identify what the specific problems are related to the issue. Do the employee exit surveys ask the right questions? Does one school have a greater turnover than another? What do the teachers and other staff say are their greatest concerns? Anonymous surveys and in-person conversations can be used to gather information. It is very difficult to create solutions to a problem if you don't know what the real problem is. We may say that it is all about salary and benefits, but there may be deeper issues that the district is not addressing.

Derek Gander: This is a problem districts all over the country are dealing with. I am glad to say that we have improved pay and benefits to help retain the best. I believe that letting teachers and staff know how important they are is essential as well.

Matthew Robertson: To resolve the staff shortage issue we are facing, we should review exit interviews of staff leaving the district and resolve what is causing the staff to leave. We should also look at other districts' compensation packages and attempt to be competitive. Finally, work with existing staff to make reasonable adjustments that could improve worker satisfaction.

Veronica Gatz Scheurich: There are two things that greatly affect the attractiveness of a job: a supportive work environment, including managerial support, and fair and competitive compensation. I think the way to attract more quality teachers and other school staff is to ensure that Joplin Schools has a competent and supportive administration team in place and compensation that is comparable to others in the region.

Michelle Steverson: Joplin Schools has had a positive response to an incentive program for our school bus drivers that helped with recruiting and retention. I would like to see the school take that incentive program and modify it as needed for other areas where the district is struggling to obtain employees.

Jeff Koch: We have been working on a promote-from-within strategy that helps our staff see there is potential for advancement with Joplin Schools. Over 65% of our administrators have been promoted within Joplin Schools. We have also been working on our compensation packages the last several years and are now in the most competitive position that we have been in several years. Finally, this year we have started to review our extra assignment compensation for activities in order to remain competitive with our surrounding districts. I would continue to monitor the comparison districts to remain competitive.

Michael D. Landis: Teachers have to be supported as instructional leaders in their classroom, building and throughout the district. We must work hard to be the school district of choice in Southwest Missouri to provide excellent pay, benefits and overall satisfaction for our teachers. We must protect our teachers and promote their importance in the district. The same is true for our staff members in their respective roles in the district. As a board member, my role is to work diligently with the superintendent and various constituencies within the district and our community stakeholders to ensure that we have the resources to achieve this mission. At a time when education is under attack from so many, we must stand firm as a governing body to support our teachers and staff.