The Missouri Legislature passed a budget last year to help increase K-12 public school teacher pay. Lawmakers will be asked again this year to boost those salaries but getting a raise could be based on performance.

Missouri Capitol (By Alisa Nelson)

Missouri’s two top Republican leaders in the Legislature want to use this model. Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden said lawmakers should provide a baseline for the state to track performance.

“If we just keep raising the floor for everybody with no accountability and no ability to determine who’s good and who’s not, I’m not sure that does a tremendous amount of good for students. There’s any number of metrics out there that can help us define that,” said Rowden. “It’s a little muddy, to your point, and I understand that. But that’s part of our job, is we provide the baseline, the mechanism for DESE and for the state board to implement and track some of these things.”

During his opening day speech, Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said Missouri’s teachers have been compensated by an out-of-date pay scale for too long.

“It’s a flawed system that rewards time served instead of output and innovation,” said Plocher. “Teaching is difficult and our state needs to reward teachers for success so our children have access both to great teachers and choices for education. Making key strategic investments is necessary to prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Plocher said he’s confident Missouri can do this and “hold the line on our fiscally-responsible budget.”

Missouri’s K-12 public school teachers are one of the lowest paid in the nation, if not the lowest. Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said not giving teachers a pay raise when the state has billions of dollars in its bank account would be “a travesty.”

“If they want to come through some metric of how they should reward teachers for maybe better results or something like that, we’ll look at that. But the bottom line is we’re not even in the discussion when it comes to what young people are looking at for a profession at the rate that they’re paying to start,” said Rizzo. “Give the governor credit. Last year, he put it (a teacher pay raise) in his budget. We were able to get teachers a raise and we’re still at 50.”

The Missouri Legislature’s new session started this week.

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