Victory by striking teachers in West Virginia prompts look at local salaries

Posted on 6 March 2018 at 8:52pm

COLUMBIA - Missouri educators are reacting to West Virginia's decision to give striking teachers a 5 percent pay increase on Tuesday.

Mark Jones, political director for the Missouri National Education Association said what happened in West Virginia, would never happen in Missouri.

“Public employees in Missouri are prevented from striking,” he said

Jones said comparing West Virginia to Missouri isn’t exactly “apples to apples” because teachers salaries in West Virginia are dictated by the state, while, in Missouri, they’re set by the district on salary schedules.

Ann Mehr, the art teacher at Robert E. Lee Elementary said Columbia Public Schools just gave out raises for teachers. She said she receives a pretty nice retirement package from them as well.

“Columbia does better than many of the outlying areas in terms of supporting its teachers financially,” she said.

Out of the four largest school districts in mid-Missouri, Columbia Public Schools has one of the highest average salaries at $50,265. That's nearly $3,000 more than the state average, but a full $6,000 less than the national average.

Lee Franklin, former teacher at Rock Bridge High School, made the transition from public school to private school. He said, although the salary and benefits are a bit lower while working at a private school, there’s a lot less to deal with inside of the private school setting.

Franklin also agreed the retirement package with the Columbia Public Schools was a great package.

“In the grand scheme of things, when you look at the net paycheck, it’s not that much of a difference,” Franklin said.

However, he said public schools don’t have as many resources as private schools.

Both Franklin and Mehr agree what the nation saw happen in West Virginia was a powerful display of teachers coming together and working towards a good cause.

Both said teachers are in the profession because they love educating the children.

Franklin said people should stop and think before coming to a conclusion about the strike in West Virginia.

“Go into the schools and find out what teachers do.” Franklin said. "there are people in the nation’s capitol creating legislation regarding school systems, but don’t understand what it’s like working in one."

To see how your school district is paying its teachers, use the Salary Comparison Tool from the Missouri State Teachers Association.