Board passes salary schedule increase

·2 min read

Mar. 27—The Board of Education hiked staff pay by double the percentage increase offered last year during a meeting held Monday at Benton High School.

For this spring's round of changes to the salary schedule, the district aimed to boost salaries by at least $500 per year with funding from Proposition READ, the August 2022 tax levy plan. By a 6-0 vote Monday, the change ended up being a teacher salary base increase of about $1,000, or about 2.65% to the hourly rate schedule. The new teacher minimum salary shall be $38,700, up from $37,500. For holders of a bachelor's degree, the scale tops out at around $53,000. A master's degree holder earns just under $43,000 at a minimum, up to a maximum of just over $76,000, based on experience.

"It seems like only in education are we told that we knew what we were getting into, we knew what we were going to make," said Lynnea Wootten, Central High School director of bands. "Pay can be a decisive factor in deciding what you want to do, and it's only fair for us to want to see more on our paycheck, as well. The higher that number gets, the more competitive we as a district become."

Wooten, who is president of the St. Joseph National Education Association, added pay is a significant factor in retention. She said would like to see the district compete better with, for example, Kansas City Public Schools, which recently set the salary minimum at $46,650. That was an 8% jump over last year for that district, done largely in response to the national rate of inflation, which peaked at 9.1% compared to the previous year in June 2022. It has since fallen to about 6%.

When times have been tough, Spring Garden Middle School science teacher Noah Bielby said, staff have sometimes had to tolerate pay freezes, or even cuts. So, a 2.65% hike must be welcomed.

"We may not get an increase of, you know, as good as inflation," said Bielby, who leads the St. Joseph Community Teachers Association. "An increase is great no matter what. It's not all the way there, but it's a step in the right direction."

On Monday, board members followed up on previous pledges to separately increase the hourly pay for attendance interventionists, after the previous year showed having this new dedicated employee to work with troubled students can make all the difference. That will involve conversations with Assistant Superintendent Brian Kraus, who is in charge of human resources, before an eventual vote.

Marcus Clem can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowClem