Missouri has the lowest average minimum teacher salary in the country. The state House of Representatives has signed off on a package that would increase the minimum teacher salary from the current $25,000 to $38,000 annually. The plan would also boost the minimum pay from the current $33,000 to $46,000 for teachers with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience.

The package is a compilation of several education-related bills. It would create a grant fund through 2027 to provide 70% of the funding needed to help increase the salaries.

“This is a fundamental piece and that is to reset that $25,000 low, low, low bar,” said state Rep. Ed Lewis, R-Moberly.

Another feature of his bill would change the funding calculation for state aid to public schools from the current 5% maximum annual increase to 9% over the next nine years.

“That will increase the amount of money that’s generated inside the foundation formula, which will go into the ability to pay teachers the starting salary, and in fact, all salaries,” said Lewis.

Currently, 75% of state revenue received by a district is placed in a fund for teachers and the remaining 25% goes in an incidental fund. The Lewis bill would require that beginning in 2025, 85% of any state funding increase be placed in the teacher fund with the remaining 15% going in the incidental fund.

State Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, said the education package is one of the best ones passed in her three years of serving in the House.

“This did more good in actually getting real dollars into the classroom than anything else we’ve done in a long time,” she said. “I also think it takes an important look at making sure that we’re recruiting and retaining teachers as well, which is something we haven’t done well at all.”

Nurrenbern criticized the bill including a requirement for bleeding control kits in schools because she says the kits do not address gun violence happening at schools.

Other components of House Bill 497 would:

•Boost pay for retired teachers who return as substitute teachers

•Recreate a teacher recruitment and retention scholarship fund and expand the maximum number of scholarships available

•Allow school boards to include differentiated salary schedules for hard-to-staff subject areas and hard-to-staff schools.

•Require any vacancy of an urban school district board to be appointed by remaining board members

•Require the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a traumatic blood loss protocol for school workers, including putting a bleeding control kit in high-traffic areas and places at school where the risk of injury could be elevated.

•Require schools to provide instruction in cursive writing by the end of fifth grade.

•Require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to convene a work group to recommend and develop performance standards for a required high school course on personal finance.

It’s the Senate’s turn to decide if it supports the bill.

Copyright 2023 Missourinet