CPS approves pay increase for employees, union wants more input

7 months 1 week 2 days ago Tuesday, May 08 2018 May 8, 2018 Tuesday, May 08, 2018 1:59:00 PM CDT May 08, 2018 in News
By: Lydia Nusbaum, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Columbia employees will see a salary increase for the following school year, but one teachers union said they wanted the increases to distributed more fairly.  

The Columbia Board of Education approved an average 4.8 percent increase for employees Tuesday morning.

Michelle Baumstark, a spokesperson for Columbia Public Schools, said the district approved an additional $3.685 million in employee compensation. The 2016 tax levy increase is paying for the increased salaries. 

"Providing appropriate compensation for employees is something that is significantly important to recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees," Baumstark said. 

However, Columbia Missouri National Education Association President Kathy Steinhoff, said she wanted the money to be distributed more fairly. 

"We aren't disagreeing with how much money our taxpayers are giving teachers," Steinhoff said. "We are just disappointed that we weren't given the voice in how the extra money was distributed."

She said some teachers will receive a $13,000 increase, while others get a $288 increase. Steinhoff said she would have liked to lower the $13,000 raise to provide more money to those with a smaller raise. 

Baumstark said the pay raises for each teacher is dependent on a salary schedule. This is the amount of pay based on the educational degree and years of service to the school district. 

The raises would go toward teachers and administration workers. Baumstark said the district has more than 3,000 employees with between 1,200 to 1,500 employed as teachers. 

She said these increases can help keep quality employees in the district. 

"For them to stay here and not go elsewhere, that's important," she said. "Our district obviously values the important role that teachers play in the classroom, as well as the important role our other employees play in the operations of our school district." 

The approval came after months of negotiation between the school district and Columbia Missouri National Education Association. The district also approved the issuance of contracts for the following year. The increases will go into affect July 1.

These increases are surrounded by a statewide debate on K-12 education funding. As of Monday, House lawmakers recommended close to a $99 million funding increase next fiscal year. However, senators passed a budget plan with around a $48 million increase. 

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