Missouri school superintendents could have their salaries limited. A state House committee is considering Rep. Ben Keathley’s bill.

“The idea is simply that teacher pay needs to be raising at least the same rate that that other administrative salaries and functions are,” he told the Missouri House’s Special Committee on Education Reform. “The idea is to raise student performance and academic achievement.”

If passed, his legislation would cap the salaries of superintendents to an amount no greater than 5.5 times the salary of a first-year teacher.

“The idea is basically here to tie the teacher pay and the superintendent pay,” said Keathley, a Republican from Chesterfield. “Some school districts, we have seen superintendent pay has risen a lot more sharply and a lot quicker than the teacher pay and the teacher pay has lagged behind. I think when one person gets a raise in the school district, it makes sense that that would begin and end with, or not end, but it would begin with the discussion around teachers, who are actually dealing directly with our students.”

The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) opposes the bill. Doug Hayter, MASA’s executive director, said decisions about pay are best left to local communities to decide.

“We appreciate the work of key groups and elected officials as they evaluate and identify funding streams to address the teacher shortage crisis, but tying the compensation of the superintendent to improve starting teacher pay will not address the funding necessary to make an immediate and long-term impact on teacher salaries; there is also a concern that doing so may negatively impact a district’s ability to attract and retain district leadership,” he told Missourinet.

He cites 454 Missouri superintendent vacancies since August of 2019.

“Of those vacancies, 306 of those were filled with first-year superintendents. Additionally, we have seen fewer and fewer candidates applying for these positions. As this trend continues, school districts should be given the flexibility to respond in-kind to recruit the best candidates to their district,” said Hayter.

According to MASA, New Jersey is the only U.S. state the organization knows of that has removed a local board’s ability to set compensation structure for superintendents.

“New Jersey, as a result of that legislation, saw an exodus of their best administrators to other states. This left school districts with vacancies, interim leaders, and shorter tenures. As a result of the turmoil this caused at the local level, the state eventually repealed these limits in 2019,” Hayter said.

To view House Bill 2344, click here.

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