Low salaries, waning interest drives teachers away from rural school districts

8 months 1 week 6 days ago Tuesday, April 03 2018 Apr 3, 2018 Tuesday, April 03, 2018 4:19:00 PM CDT April 03, 2018 in News
By: Elliot Bauman, Mackenzie Elliott, YanqiXu and Maura Healy, KOMU 8 Reporters
loading

SHELBINA - Ryan Keller was looking for a place to start his teaching career. He received offers from school districts in Columbia and Kansas City, but did not even apply to rural districts across the state.

“I am not a small town guy. I am a city person, and I wanted more money and new experience,” Keller said. “All the other parts of the state that are miles and miles away from a big city, nobody wants to go there.”

Keller is not alone. A growing number of teachers are choosing not to work in school districts throughout rural Missouri, according to Missouri State Teachers Association spokesman Todd Fuller. 

“Anecdotally, I started to see it at teacher placement days or job fairs. You’d see large lines for St. Louis and Kansas City. But, for the smaller school districts, the lines would be much smaller,” Fuller said.

The Learning Policy Institute reports Missouri’s average starting teacher salary of $30,064 ranks 48th in the country. Missouri’s average is $6,077 less than the national average.

The assistant commissioner at the state's education department said teaching is a difficult job, which in many fields means good pay.

Paul Katnik said, "That's not the case in education. So, you're asking people to go do very, very difficult work, very professional level work, for pay that that really doesn't look at that.”

A county-by-county breakdown of starting salaries by the state teacher’s association shows 77 of Missouri’s 114 counties fall below the mean.

Katnik said he recognizes discrepancies between salaries at rural school districts and their metropolitan counterparts.

“What we find is that salaries are fairly comparable at the very first year,” Katnik said. “But, by year ten, rural schools have fallen way behind."

What drives salaries is connected to the local tax base.

"If you're in a community that's already poor, your only way to do better is to make the community pay more and the community already doesn't have much,” Katnik said.

Not only are teachers paid less in rural districts, but they are also asked to coach sports or  sponsor clubs due to the small faculty size. The superintendent of Shelby County R-IV, Tim Maddex, said teachers are not willing to accept the lower pay and increased responsibilities.

“You go to the cities and you can make $40,000 or $50,000 and not have to do extracurriculars. You come here, you may make $30,000 and you’re the basketball coach, the football coach or in charge of F.F.A,” he said.

Fuller believes the lack of industry in rural communities also causes teachers to avoid smaller school districts that need their help.

“There might be opportunities for them. But, for a significant other, there might not be anything at all. So, it may be very difficult to start a family in that area," Fuller said.

The number of people choosing to teach as a profession has also declined in recent years. The U.S. Department of Education reports, between 2009 and 2014, enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped 36 percent nationwide and 22 percent in the state of Missouri.

Maddex said if teacher pay was similar to other jobs in the area, more people would be interested in teaching.

“We just got to work on making sure that we can get the funding up there so we can continue to get pay increases," he said. "If we are more comparable to professionals in our area, I think it would help to draw people back.” 

More News

Grid
List
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A 57-year-old southwestern Missouri man has pleaded guilty in federal court to a $2.4 million wire fraud... More >>
3 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 9:48:54 PM CST December 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri sent out an MU Alert just before 6 p.m. Sunday to warn people about... More >>
6 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 6:45:00 PM CST December 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- From model trains to decorated window panes, there was fun for all ages at the Boone County History and... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 6:12:00 PM CST December 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – After a life-threatening accident 17 years ago, a Columbia man is proving you never have to give up... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 12:46:00 PM CST December 16, 2018 in Sports
COLUMBIA - A University of Missouri assistant football coach was arrested Saturday on a warrant from Miller County after failing... More >>
15 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 10:12:00 AM CST December 16, 2018 in Sports
FULTON - Two people were arrested on various drug charges Sunday morning. According to a release, Police stopped a... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, December 16 2018 Dec 16, 2018 Sunday, December 16, 2018 7:08:00 AM CST December 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Symphony will play holiday music Sunday for the Symphony of Toys concert. Students in the Missouri... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:45:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - People gathered at Hickman High School on Saturday to celebrate holidays from several cultures. KOPN Community Radio... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:10:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia College had a special moment during the graduation ceremony Saturday to honor a student who died in... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 8:15:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Diocese confirmed Saturday three people were added to its list of clergy accused of... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:31:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police made an arrest in connection to Saturday afternoon's shooting in the 3800 block of Aspen Heights... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 4:40:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Capitol has recently completed an effort to restore and conserve the building's... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 3:26:00 PM CST December 15, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - Anyone walking around Boonville might be able to play a game of "I spy" now that painted rocks... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 10:50:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- High school football teams from around the state will travel to Memorial Stadium for the next five years to... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:41:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in Sports
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke , who's facing federal investigations into his travel, political... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 8:53:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
ASHLAND - The Southern Boone Area YMCA will build a new 15,714 square-foot facility in the next two years, if... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:48:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
ALTON, Ill. (AP) — Authorities are looking for a man who is suspected of fleeing to Missouri after officers shot... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:12:00 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A former county official from southeast Missouri already in prison on a conviction of exploiting the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, December 15 2018 Dec 15, 2018 Saturday, December 15, 2018 7:09:52 AM CST December 15, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 36°
2am 31°
3am 30°
4am 29°
5am 28°