Missouri, like many other states, has been battling major teacher shortages for several years. A survey to get help to recruit and retain more Missouri K-12 teachers has yielded more than 16,000 responses over a five-day period.
During a meeting this week, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Assistant Commissioner, Dr. Paul Katnik, presented the findings of the results to a statewide commission designed to boost teacher recruitment and retention. The responses were from teachers, principals and superintendents.
More than 80% of teachers surveyed say an increase in base salary should be a high priority or essential when considering components of teacher pay. More than 90% of superintendents say it should be while just over 50% of principals agree.
The survey also shows that 72% of teachers surveyed want paid time off for wellness days and 58% favor student loan forgiveness.
About 62% of teachers surveyed say they support a statewide salary schedule that determines key benchmarks and related salary requirements throughout the course of a teacher’s career to raise teacher salaries. A statewide salary schedule would help to close the gap between teacher pay in smaller districts versus larger ones.
The commission’s preliminary recommendations include:
*Boosting the starting annual teacher pay by statute to $38,000
*Creating a fund to support district base pay and competitive pay
*Ask Legislature to provide state salary supplements for teachers who get national board certification
*Changing the Missouri Constitution and the Teacher Tenure Act that prevent awarding supplements and bonuses to teachers
*Increasing healthcare benefits to teachers
*State funding for two wellness days per teacher each academic year
*Requiring school districts to cover mental health services in health care plans
*Student loan forgiveness and funding the Urban Flight and Rural Needs Scholarship Program
*Requiring the state to provide annual funding of the Career Ladder program
*Ongoing grant funding of Grow Your Own teacher recruitment programs
*Expanding accountability mechanisms related to teacher workforce data
*Expanding the Teach Missouri recruitment program
The panel plans to have its final recommendations ready by the end of September to present to the Missouri Board of Education in October. The recommendations would be part of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s 2023 legislative priorities.
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